I went to the mall and got distracted. There is so much to touch in the Gap, so many life-size pictures of attractive people to shake hands with. I walk around the carousel. I sip water from the fountain. It dribbles down me like moss.
So. Hank. Send me blessings from your men’s leisure suit. Go. Buy yourself an ice cream. And on the way pay for a smile where there used to be a Blockbuster.
In traffic, everyone wears bumper stickers that make them look local. It makes for such confusion. On my right, I pass a pond and turn up its driveway to evaluate the water.
I stare at the pond. “You should boil your water,” I say to it. Hank told me this once. “Don’t drink the tap water. And the water you left in your car is poison. The chemicals leak into the water from plastic. You can get brain damage from the water unless you buy a boat.
“And don’t order ice in your agua botolla when you visit Mexico either. Your body is not used to that type of ice.”
I walk away. The pond water is bad for all of my cuts, every broken bug bite, every ripped cuticle. The bacteria could infect me and eat me. I could easily become Swamp Thing. I need to eat.
On my way out of the clam shack, I look down at my take-out, oysters squiggling like jelly, a plastic cup. “This,” I say to the cashier, “Is water. I ordered an A & W Root Beer.”
John Bonanni lives on Cape Cod, MA, where he serves as editor for the Cape Cod Poetry Review. He is the recipient of a scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a grant for the arts from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His work has appeared recently in Off the Coast, elimae, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others.