A raucous crowd of family
scramble the seats across from me,
talking loudly about their bowels
and Shannon’s newborn baby
produced before her sixteenth birthday
and ‘already sleeping through.’
Some shitty instinctive voice in me
thinks ‘crap.’ Bad luck to end up
enduring the final leg,
listening to lurid tales of
who best pissed their pants
and on which ride
and when they’ll go again.
Then the more curious side of me,
that collects characters like these,
sees this as blatant opportunity.
I abandon my short story
to scribble notes furiously.
‘Rich pickings here,’ I think.
And finally, thankfully,
they end up chatting to me
and we share friendly profanaties
about United versus City,
and suck on sour sweets.
When the train pulls in, delayed,
we go our separate ways
and I feel curiously sad about
the Sunday roasts we’ll never share,
Shannon’s boy’s first steps and
missed rituals of a different Christmas Eve.
Ridiculous, I know.
I’m sure they’ll never think of me.