TAKING A POWDER
At the wedding reception in Jersey City,
Manhattan's skyline on the other side of the windows,
the other couple at our table
seem to me like mystery panelists
on a television game show,
clearly there together,
just as clearly apart.
Daniel keeps disappearing
to check on the score
of the Eagles-Ravens game—
or so he explains his prolonged absences.
Plainly annoyed, Angela
refuses to apologize or explain.
"Daniel's a big boy.
He can look after himself."
They live in Philly — but not together.
They'd known the bride in San Diego —
but they’d met her separately.
Angela talks about her ex-husband
whom she’d married young.
Daniel asks about him, politely,
as if enquiring about a deceased pet,
before disappearing from the table
to check on the score again.
When the party ends, Daniel's elsewhere.
My family and I face
a three-hour drive back to Baltimore.
We tell Angela it's been a pleasure.
She smiles graciously, but
her thoughts are elsewhere.
We rise to convey our best wishes
to the bride and the groom
before going on our way,
and there's Daniel,
palming a plastic packet
bulging with white powder
into the groom's hand.
Charles reads "Taking a Powder":
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Charles confesses: "There's often a sinister intimacy at play at weddings. It's no wonder you see it so often in movies and novels. Toss in the aura of "mob glamor" of north Jersey — as happened at the 2005 marriage of my friends Marci and James — and there's no telling what might happen."
The Potomac. His collection entitled Fusen Bakudan, involving missionaries during the Vietnam war, has just been published by Time Being Books. A chapbook of poems entitled Mixed Signals is forthcoming from MuscleHead Press.