It happened while I was emptying the tank
in the city center train station bathroom
my pink backpack clinging to life on the
silver handle kicking up legs so as not to touch lava.

I’d been walking around for 30 years—
enormous pressure constructing dams against my organs
demanding my attention like a dog with fleas—
when I saw the life-giving restroom sign gesturing to my left.
I fought to stay calm as I duck-walked down the alley
and a smile lit my face when I saw the vacant sign on the door.
I pushed right in pressed the red lock button
slung my pink backpack on the silver handle. I dropped
my drawers and it was all I could do to prevent a mighty
exhalation of relief peal from my lips
as Niagra Falls was released from the dam.

I’m glad I didn’t
(exhale, that is)
for naught three seconds later
the door burst open and I was bare butt to face
with a suddenly frazzled Asian woman.
It’s a movie in my mind I can see it so clearly:
She’s frazzled I’m frazzled my backpack
(the unlocking culprit) is frazzled;
I couldn’t be mad at it it was fighting for it’s life on the handle there
we all do what we can and make mistakes.

I’m stammering sorry on repeat
not to apologize but to alert the public that something was going on
here and perhaps they should come watch.
She’s making noises and trying to jerk the door closed
but my backpack is dangling from the handle
and swinging in the way. She’s tugging it’s swinging
the breeze is wafting through the public train station bathroom
I’m too far away to be effective at all I’m still stammering sorry
and sort of giggling and still peeing (and still peeing)
all at once amused by the fight commencing  between
my backpack the door and this frazzled woman.

Finally she appeals to the gods for rhythm and times it just so
she jerks the door closed while the backpack is in mid swing and
I hear a mighty click and a muffled sor-ry!

I reach over and press lock and give ol’ packy
a pet cause no one reads poetry about
a predictable pee in the public bathrooms of a train station.
I don’t make memories by getting to work on time.
I don’t spin tales about ordering espresso
and getting espresso. No one wants to know about
the time I crossed the street safely. I don’t care to share
about the time I stayed home and made salad for dinner.

For my part, I like hearing stories about the dumb sorts of girls
who hang backpacks from door handles
and don’t properly lock public train station bathrooms.

So it’s a tiny way I can contribute to the public
on this Saturday afternoon in the city.


The reader brings his or her own experience to the poem and creates meaning. Here is my experience.

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