The kings and queens
of the ancient seas set sail among us still.
I knew one. I did. I loved her
and her kingdom. I still do.
I live differently now
than I did before. Better and worse.
Differently. I mean now
as compared to when I didn’t know
anything about the ancient seas.
Or their kings and queens. Or
the men and women among us
who still sail those ancient seas.
I said, “I really like that shirt.
Did you buy it at the Gap?”
The young woman’s employee name tag
displayed the name, ‘Lisa.’
She said, inevitably, “This old thing?” Then she
surprised me. “I made this myself.
I like it, too.” She turned from
the stacks of paperbacks and faced me.
“Do you really like it?
Or did you compliment my shirt
just to start talking to me?”
I smiled, too, and gave myself
one hot second to come up with
some mid-ground between sounding gay,
saying I did like her shirt,
or sounding like
a jackass pickup artist tossing a line.
“I can’t introspect
that deeply off the cuff,” I said, shrugging.
“Off the cuff,” Lisa repeated,
making a lemon-taste face.
“Now I know why the boss told me
not to talk to customers.”
But she didn’t turn away.
I said, ‘I do like your cool shirt.”
She gave me an appraising look,
plain and open as her shirt.
She asked, “Would you like me to teach you
how to make one yourself?”
Again, I didn’t want to sound gay,
but I definitely
wanted to learn anything
she wanted to teach. “Sure,” I said.
“But I don’t sew much. I just buy new stuff
when old stuff wears out.”
“Do you put on your clothes yourself
when you get dressed?” Lisa asked.
“Usually,” I said. “Of course,
I sit to pull on my socks.”
“I’d say,” Lisa said, “that if
you can dress yourself you can learn
whatever sewing skills you need
to make a shirt. Want to learn?”
“Sure,” I said, again.
I told her my name and offered my hand.
She shook my hand.
“I get off at six,” she said. “Meet me outside.”
(“Kings And Queens Of The Ancient Seas” continues tomorrow)