We’re sitting at an outdoor table
on the Broadway sidewalk watching
the rhythmic pause-and-go of traffic
through the Saratoga streets,
the hum and squeals of engines and brakes,
the hydraulic groan of the 473 bus as it unloads
its cargo of townsfolk and tourists,
their chatter filling the summer air
in the absence of birds. A boy sits
at the bus stop with a silent guitar in hand,
ignored by those coming and going.
We watch people board the bus
as you sip your Bloody Mary,
savoring the olives in your mouth,
turning them over like words
you’d rather hear than speak.
The waitress brings our food
and sets it down like the silence
between us. The small pink creatures
of your shrimp cocktail remind me
of the things I’ll fail to say––
laid out before us, untouched
and wholly intact yet
so obviously dead.
The boy still sits at the bus stop.
His guitar is still silent, its case
open at his feet like an empty wallet.
Passing pedestrians pay him no mind.
No one is giving me any money
he complains to no one in particular,
but he isn’t playing anything.
Ariel Francisco was born in the Bronx, New York, though he’s lived in Florida for most of his life. He graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a B.A. in English Lit. He’s also studied creative writing at the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College and film at Charles University in Prague. He currently resides in Miami, Florida.