Bread

 

Ezra swings hard until his body angles into the earth, his legs

and hips almost too much for the chain and rubber sling. He swings

until the bar rattles its apex, the jolt after a second of weightlessness,

until all I can see of him is a curve with a face, a grinning ray

about to shoot off through the sky.

 

*

 

The small Pakistani boy fishhooks my eye, hunched

over on a bench at a playground. There is a circle

of children behind him, waiting stars on an arabesque.

Do you have any bread? he asks breathlessly, my face

domed in the telescopes of his glasses.

 

Nope, I tell him, because it’s the truth.

 

Pretend, he says with a whip of his wrists as if tossing a doll.

He huffs and flicks his hands again. The doll becomes a juggler’s pin.

Pretend you have bread, man, he whines and casts back

his head, the pin become something much greater,

and more necessary.

 

So I reach into my pocket and pull out air,

cupping it in front of our faces. The children’s eyes tick

with our movements. He reaches into the warm

concave of my hands to pull out air.

Pinching it in front of him, he returns to the circle

and fists out loaves to his starving friends.

Soon enough, they’re back for more,

for soda, spaghetti, cheeseburgers, sun-

soft bowls of ice cream.

I give them all I have.

*

 

Ezra swings higher and harder now, nearly gone. There, for a second—

his eyewhites, the quick meniscus of a smile, and then

he is nothing but a pendulum blade,

a threaded spider in a doorway, a stone about to fly,

the centuries-long ellipsis of a comet.

 

First Published in The Atticus Review

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