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Traffic Jam

ISSUE:  Spring 1994

The words come slowly, arrive slowly, changed by travel;
some are missing, get here later, in no particular order,
“love.” “You.” It’s the so-called Happy Hour. This hazy
sunlight is softened and faded and what it touches it
softens and fades also. End of a season. The trimmings for
the festival were up so long the actual event might have
escaped our notice; not the preparations. It was always a
celebration, or there was none.”I” wanted to make
definitive statements, or to hit the one who insisted on
stopping to point and stare.Pretend you don’t notice are
words that come easily: our mothers used to hiss them into
our ears, averting our faces for us before this passion, this
absolute rage for litigation was born. Was it quieter then is
a question asked trustfully; maybe the words came a little
more quickly, and clearer: they didn’t have to fight their
way through these narrow streets made narrower by the
parked trucks on which the brightly painted chains and
cages of various rides droop for the moment, collapsed for
swifter travel like folded wings. The Whip. The Hustler.
The Haunted House. This amusement park could spring up
anywhere now: the Ferris Wheel stripped of its seats still
turning eerily as though, lit, its only purpose was to churn
some of this urban nightmare into the swallow-brushed late
summer twilight getting away above the frozen sea of
glittering metal our hurry and longing creates. You could
walk across it
, the snarl of too many ardent desires coming
as true as they can, expectancy locked to disappointment,
You could. . .; the words stuck there, “forever,” the water
turning to gold where it touches our lips.


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