YOUR ROLE IN THE SURPRISE

 

Girls grow into women.

ItÕs a subtle process

like the slow advance

of the grass in the field.

 

And, though you might think so,

it didnÕt just happen.

What youÕre seeing

is days, months, years,

not the miracle of the moment.

 

You havenÕt seen her in some time,

and sheÕs blossomed like a peach.

YouÕve not taken the time to observe

so you discard time as the reason.

 

YouÕre wrong in every respect.

YouÕve contributed nothing to who she is

as she slowly ascends the stairs

looking very adult, surprisingly lovely.

 

And yet youÕre still convinced

this is your moment, not hers.

She smiles warmly in your direction.

But because she likes you, not to thank you.

 

 

 

STANDING OVER HER HUSBAND, CARVING KNIFE IN HAND

 

Her mind has threatened him

a thousand times

but the hand that grips a carving knife

had not followed through.

 

When heÕs asleep

would be the optimum.

HeÕs fat. He snores.

Little risk of stabbing into

 

the little thatÕs left

of his humanity.

And his nose emerges

from the confines of the pillow.

 

She could slice it off.

And, while sheÕs at it,

cut those lips clear

off his face.

 

But still she doesnÕt act.

Even though he never

has a kind word for her.

And he drinks.

 

And he wonÕt let her see

any of her old friends.

SheÕs enjoying

the moment too much.

 

SheÕs the one with the weapon.

HeÕs the perfect target, lying there.

But heÕs never hit her at least.

If she kills him,

 

it would have to be

a different kind of self-defense.

Finally, she slides the knife back

in the drawer,

 

slips into the bed beside him,

like she too is being slid into a drawer.

She doesnÕt disturb his sleeping.

But sheÕs done enough to disturb her own.

 

 

 

AMYÕS PURCHASE

 

The Navajo woman

sells Amy bracelets and earrings

silently, unsmilingly.

She slides the credit card

slowly through the reader

by the cash register,

hands it back

without once making eye contact.

Maybe sheÕs had a bad day.

Maybe she has a long memory.

 

Amy just happens to find

the jewelry charming,

is unaware of Wounded Knee,

the slaughter at Washita River.

She hasnÕt broken any treaties.

In fact, in her own way,

she figures sheÕs making one,

helping out the reservationÕs economy

while buying something

that will look good with her new blouse.

 

Besides, thatÕs all ancient history to Amy.

Today, sheÕs a tourist.

Today, sheÕs a woman

checking, in the mirror,

how smart she looks

in something tribal made.

 

The Navajo woman

does stare up at Amy

as she takes her purchase,

pops it in her pocket book.

And thereÕs more

than a little accusation

in the dark expression.

But IÕm who I am,

Amy wants to say.

IÕve nothing to do with

Òyou and those just like you.Ó

 

© John Grey

 

Bio:  John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.