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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Leavenworth

 

One extraordinary day you rise

under a full moon and drive past sunup

a monotonous Inter-State stone slab,

into an apprehensive flat expanse of Kansas,

horizons of dusty heated shimmering haze.

 

Three no-nonsense badges in dark glasses

at the first gate.  One standing statue-like

with a shotgun, watching.  Another quizzing you

—your intentions, your I.D. and passcode—

while the other circles the car, peering

in the windows, catching your face following him

 

in the rearview mirror.  Like being swallowed

when the first gate opens to the second gate,

and both lock shut behind you.  Like swimming

in the belly of a whale, standing in line

at Reception, treading a whirlpool

of paperwork and permissions.  The waiting room

 

drowning in worriment and dread,

brothers and wives and buddies who’d promised

to visit, and here we are.  This once.  At least

you can leave this place justified with that.

And you can drive home wide-eyed that evening

to the opulence of freedoms you call your own.

 

While the man you’ve come to see greets you

forever stone-faced, embarrassed maybe,

concealing the trials of his routine “inside.”

The pair of you trading stares through plexi-glass,

shouting in the din of so many miseries. Groping

for pleasantries. Discovering none.

 

                                 -Lowell Jaeger