Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

memory

April 6, 2015

we parents work hard
to create amazing memories

today was a quick trip to the city
where the Smithsonian exhibit
on ancient Egypt
would dovetail perfectly
with the third grade cirricullum
like extra credit
for overachieving parents

the kids read all the maps
and did all the math
three Metro tickets
carried in three pockets
passed through the machines
with professional flourish

arrived at the museum
right as it opened
plenty of mummies
and a few dinosaur fossils
thrown in for good measure
like an apple for the teacher

then on the perfectly-timed ride home
a woman enters the train
face filthy
wild eyes
hair permanently pushed straight up
three teeth standing like soldiers
betrayed by her brain
insulting people who aren’t there

and the smell
Oh, Lord, the stench
weeks and months of rancid urine

in an instant it is clear:
all of my plotting and planning
is supplanted
by this
this is the memory
for the day
and for life

our eyes watering
stomachs turning
green in the gills
we would join the exodus
from the train car, but
she needs help finding her station
shouting at each stop
“Is this Ballston?”

(Sweet Jesus sitting on a train car,
that’s only one station before ours!)

I try to model kindness
patience
understanding
non-emetic response to challenge
but even Jesus would gag

we walk out into a breezy day
the smell still clinging
to our clothes
and the insides of our noses
wondering what we learned
on our field trip today

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