Ode to Small Talk

This picture is a reflection in a puddle :) I am writing this poem (mostly) again weekly after a very spotty year. Work got the better of my practice, but no longer! I hope this finds you in daffodils..

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Ode to Small Talk


My fourteen year old son
and I bond over the forecast on my iPhone.
We both consider weather symbols
the size of pencil erasers,
like stickers on homework in grade school.
Sometimes given our Pacific Northwest,
the week is a row of raindrops,
micro clouds shedding mini tears.
We brighten at stick figure suns.
I ask him to relay the temperature,
hour by hour as I drive him to school,
the 4.2 miles, 11 minutes otherwise
would be spent in awkward silence.
Any deeper exploration about his upcoming day
is met with fine or good, yas and nahs.
His inner world is now as foreign to me as
heat lightning in Dubai.

It’s the same reason dogs were invented,
especially puppies,
many a family reunion is endured due to floppy ears
and accounts of trips to the vet.
And babies, ambassadors who claim
no religiosity or patriotism, can’t yet offend or condemn.
Complaining chatter allows us to tolerate traffic or air travel delays.
I assume no one likes waiting an extra hour
and nod to my neighbor seated on similar black vinyl,
at the grocery can roll my eyes at a fellow human
when the line snakes down the cereal aisle.

I sometimes stretch our morning conversation
inquiring about distant locales,
occasionally asking about Ethiopia from where my son was adopted.
It enjoys the same climate as Southern California
where I spent many years.
My cells expand recalling
temperatures solidly in the seventies,
life affirming and enduring as disco on the radio.
There magenta, fuchsia and salmon bougainvillea blooms,
the papery flowers seem already dried.
I like to imagine there is a moment when the petals
first unfurl, that they are briefly soft as roses,
as my son’s cheeks were when he was young.