Nostalgia

I flail like you wouldn’t
believe sometimes but it’s fine

because it’s mostly in airports and
looks just enough like running.

About a million people are
wearing those Bluetooth headsets

and I refuse to believe they’re all
that important so I’m like, somebody

get me an effin tuxedo. No one
does. On the plane, the French couple

scoffs at a cover of a man laughing and playing
with a dog like they can’t believe we’re still

this into laughing and dogs. Right about
now, I so wish weaponized lasers

were pocket-sized. A few seconds,
a text. Erin: just finished family photo

shoot! Me: I don’t think this
French guy and his wife like me.

huh? Ha, seriously
kidding. The lady showing us how

to put on a seatbelt must be this other guy
sitting across from me’s type because

his eyes go far away
and he lays a sweater over his lap.

She’s got a rock on her finger weird
shaped like a kidney stone but it’s not

scaring him off. I’m thinking, are we
filming? I’m like, somebody

bring me a fucking
Scotch and somebody

brings me a Scotch. I sit for
a minute with the drink, legs

crossed, palm facing down, fingertips
gripping the rim of the plastic cup. We are all

appropriately quiet then the French guy
says his lines in French. The pilot says,

taking off. The Seatbelt Lady doesn’t say
anything. I start a few napkin sketches

but stuff them into my pocket. The Seatbelt
Lady looks flustered. She’s the Drink Lady

now. She asks if I want anything
else, but I’m like, I don’t trust revolving

doors. I would describe my voice
as a steak dinner voice. I’m like, I try to out emote

drive-thru employees when they sound too happy.
She walks away. This little boy with hair like

pine needles is tugging at Sweater Guy’s
sleeve next to me. He’s like, Dad,

the moon’s just glow in the dark, right?
Sweater Guy looks up ahead at the Drink Lady,

sits one leg over the other. He doesn’t answer
the kid, but I’m thinking, I went to college.

I’m thinking, that kid is so wrong. The stars are pretty
distracting tonight. Now it’s my serious

moment so I’m thinking, someone
somewhere underneath us is trying to take

a picture with one of those guys dressed up
in a cow suit outside of a fast food joint and

later tonight that suit guy will go home
and load hollow points into every gun

he has. I put on the appropriate
face. More scotch. Pine Hair Boy makes a

forgetful face. The Drink Lady is
bending down. Sweater Guy fortifies

sweater defenses. It gets me thinking.
I pull out the same napkin and nervously

scribble break out the old glove,
son. Let’s play catch until our arms

fall off. You bring the baseballs. I’ll bring
the arms but I hide the paper like

a schoolyard kid stuffs the frog
he accidentally killed into his pocket

when the teacher walks by. Then in the tiny
bathroom, I’ve got skittish fingers. I’m washing

imaginary blood off my knuckles. In
the mirror, I’m like, nothing ever goes right

away. Right outside, the Drink
Lady whispers to God

knows what and right outside again, the sky’s
in a quick draw. People fall

in love so fast in all those old
Westerns. Then I’m thinking, still, stop

motion animation, still stop Erin,
how tight should I tie my handkerchief

tonight and in my head, jaggedly, I loop
a knot behind my neck. Someone somewhere is

loving someone else just enough
to hate them both. The pilot says,

currently. He says, altitude. I’m thinking,
it’s like high noon and getting shot

but after the first bullet, it’s hard
to feel. Erin, I have all these fingers

if you need any more and there’s
a hollow whistle where

her words would normally be.

 

Peter Twal is a writer and an engineer. He has programmed software aboard countless ships, despite being certain that watching Titanic made him seasick as a kid. His poems have appeared in NAP, smoking glue gun, plain china, and elsewhere. Currently, he is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.

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