This poem is posted for
Prompt: An overheard conversation.
|Photo by Tess Kincaid|
I waited in the corner of my bench, swaying
to the breeze of the swinging doors and the
hypnotic dance of silver Lookdown fish;
hand mirrors swimming in the lighted circle
of a watery glass cylinder, maddeningly obedient
to some instinct, uncomplaining, beautifully ornamental.
Featured exhibit in the lobby of the aquarium,
the symmetrical circling of their silver bodies
was a stark contrast to the chaotic swirl of humanity.
The family stopped to tend to the baby.
My gaze was drawn to the older woman –
to hieroglyphs on her soul - easily deciphered.
Deep disappointment hid behind her half smiling mask,
tinged with a smirk. Her eyes scanned the family group
before her: tall fair son, his dark middle-eastern wife,
her adolescent daughter, baby of blended complexion,
clearly the couple’s son. The baby’s mother fussed
over the crying child, including her husband
in a smiling attempt to sooth their son. Yet,
the tentacles of tension in the group reached out
to clutch me in their stifling grip. I felt it
as strongly as my claustrophobic panic
in the exhibit tunnels, but I sat still, smiling
as the young father picked up the child,
facing him towards me over his shoulder.
The baby was as exotic as the beautiful
creatures of the sea in the aquarium –
eyes a striking amber and green, penetrating,
somehow knowing, as he responded
to the silent game of peek-a-boo I began to play with him.
His tentative smile caught the attention of the parents,
thankful for his momentary distraction,
but as my eyes played with his,
my heart saw the grandmother’s expression soften –
the mask slipping, if only for a moment –
as she allowed herself to believe
that maybe it was ok, maybe
her grandson was loveable after all.