What if we had drills,
not just for disasters, fires
and hurricanes, not just
for active school shooters
and any possible terrorisms
both foreign and domestic,
what if we had rigorous
training in kindnesses:
how to recognize them incoming,
start a volley with the perpetrators.
for frequent barrages
of mutual respect,
and visual exercises
to increase aim with
arrows of understanding,
rehearsals in how to see
and, at last,
commonwealths of decency
brigades of beneficence,
great infantries of amity,
drilling to hone skills
of making, and giving,
In the summer, after rain,
six years since our last. Meeting
over mint iced tea this time her weary
eyes, careless gray hair fell, heavy,
onto drooped shoulders. The blouse
so inappropriate, I thought, seeing
right through it. A woman should
wear a nice bra at least, I thought, seeing
I hadn’t wanted it, this awkward date.
She’d caught me off guard with her call.
These days I loathed forced smiles,
cheeriness that smothered the bare
truth of my life. Avoided Let’s have coffee
at all costs. Off guard.
I tried not to look again at her
tasteless I thought again bra
that wisp of a blouse on one her age
seeing through it. Right through.
Focused now on her thin lips, feeling
I made to-do lists in my head
as she went on and on trying
to reach a point, perhaps, or find words
…died….I heard her say
murdered in his apartment. They think
my heart skipped a beat
it was a random burglary he
shame crept crimson into my selfish
was to be twenty the next day.
Her eyes bore holes into my skin, words
peeled away my feeble layers. Seeing right through.
It is a blessing
to find those things
that save us
in small ways.
At the checkout counter
a teenaged boy
offered to carry groceries
for an old couple.
They said yes,
and I was quietly saved.
Melinda Coppola has been writing in some form for nearly five decades. Her work has been published in several magazines, books, and periodicals including I Come from the World, Harpur Palate, Kaleidoscope, The Autism Perspective, Spirit First, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Welcome Home, and Celebrations. An artist, Yoga teacher and mom to an amazing daughter with special needs, she enjoys infusing her work of heart with her voice as a poet.
Melinda nourishes her creative spirit with singing, early morning walks, collecting and making art with beach stones, cooking, spending quiet time with her husband and daughter, and communing with her cats.