wilting flowers.

The flowers that rested in the vase were drooping. They had been picked a week prior, plucked by the tan fingers of a tough/pretty girl and sold to a serious man who ran a café. The man like flowers, both the sight and smell, and prided himself in knowing many by name. The flowers arrived to the café on Wednesday, crisp and bright, and would usually stay vertical until Saturday. On Sunday, they were thrown out or given to someone who didn’t mind a bit of a wilt. For a year, that someone was me. I would take them home, struggling to hold all of them in one hand as I bicycled across town, over the bridge, and up the hill to my house.

Once home, I would trim the mushy ends and discard any that were too dead. The ones that passed my test would end up in various jars and bottles scattered around the house, adding a sprig of color to the cracked walls.

I liked the flowers. I liked their beauty, even though it was temporary, especially because it was temporary.

When the blossoms faded to mute, I cast them out the window where the sudden movement would frighten the chickens, causing them to squawk and hop about. The chickens pecked at the flowers with mild interest and their scaly toes pressed on the stalks, breaking down the structures until they returned to the dirt.

On hot days, he would take her out for ice cream and they would sit alone together. Since they lived in the Philippines, there were many hot days.

He sat in the lobby, freshly showered and shaved, watching the elevator doors, waiting for her to arrive. He held a bouquet of daffodils (her favorite) which he had bought on his walk over. Families bustled and lobby boys hustled, everyone moving as he sat: waiting.

A homeless woman carrying a woven basket walked in front of the window, her thick tendrils of grey jumping in the gusts.

a batch of pancakes.

My grandfather had come to this country a few decades’ before my birth to cook for the migrant workers who picked the strawberries in the fields along to coast. When I was born, my grandfather was working as a cook in a hospital. I was born in the same hospital. I came into this world on a spring morning, just as my grandfather was cooking a batch of pancakes. As I was being swaddled, my grandfather was told that he had a new grandson. He smiled, removed his apron, and walked upstairs to meet me.

 He’d like someone to go with him to a photo-booth and make funny faces.

fifteen minutes on the bus.

The bus was silent except for a man who spoke to his son on the telephone, thanking him for watering the grass and telling him about the hockey game that they would watch together when he returned.

And then a crazy man started taking about Florida and his unemployment from being in jail because of a bus driver. And his uncle: David Bowie.

 A small, impeccably dressed, old, old Chinese man shuffled onto the bus. He had lost his bus pass, but the driver recognized him by name and let him ride for free. I wonder how common this happens to the old man.

For her, a good day was when she had truly laughed and cried.

joe.

Joe was a somewhat quiet man who possessed a strong handshake. He didn’t speak much of his past, but after a time I learned that he was a Texan (or perhaps more accurately an ex-Texan). Joe worked behind a café that I spent too many hours at and so we came to know each other well. As we shared a similar taste in music, Joe would play records of the Old West - Williams, Cash, Robbins- and we would discuss books and thoughts. He spoke easily with people; his low murmur seemed to calm most and his laugh was quick. He would introduce me to the other regulars. I met woman with full-smiles whom I would talk to for hours. I met men who liked to keep to themselves, but enjoyed conversation on occasion. Record flipped, cups re-filled, and time past: sometimes fast, sometimes slow. We spoke about politics, hypothetical questions, and of course, the emotion that drives all artists to depression and elation: love. Joe had been in love twice (maybe three times), yet we never spoke of names. We fished on the pier and though no fish were caught, the time was spent well.

The power he had given her vanished and he was once again free to do as he pleased, free (for the moment) of the persistent thought of her eyes.