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One Poem from Lafayette Wattles


We Wait

Every Friday, on the way to gram's
we'd wage fifty cents on the old man at the bus stop—
if he'd be there, what he'd be wearing,
if he'd be standing, or sitting on the bench—
and I never understood how you could be so certain
he'd show up. Maybe it's because
I was younger, maybe that's why
I always bet the opposite, trying to outsmart you
the way you had mom and dad when you convinced them
to let us walk because it was “good exercise,”
even though what we really wanted was the chance
to hide behind the big blue mailbox on the corner
and watch that man, the way he'd look at something
in his hand then check his watch three times,
glance up and down the street, the way
his body would change, first just this stutter
in the chest, then shoulders shuddering, tremors
overtaking limbs, until the hands found the face
or it found them. The quiet slowing of his breath,
before he'd reach into his left shirt pocket,
remove sunglasses, put them on, rain or shine.
The way he'd move to the curb, as the bus pulled close
to gather him. And we couldn’t figure out
how a man comes to wait like that, until the day
we were nearly late. How we ran the whole way,
out of breath, and laughed as we ducked down
behind big blue, the bus still two blocks away.
But, when we looked at the spot where the man
should have been, we found nothing there. For days
you wouldn’t leave the house, but, when you finally did,
there was that something missing in your eyes,
like with Mrs. C, next door, and the breasts
her doctors took when they found that flock
of black beasts nesting there. How she would touch
where they had been. The same way Mr. C would roam
the backyard after she’d gone, searching
in the absence, trying to remember how to be whole.


A graduate of Spalding University's MFA program, Lafayette was recently awarded a Ucross Foundation Fellowship. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Juked, FRIGG, 13th Warrior Review, poeticdiversity, Big Toe Review, Not Just Air, and Word Riot, among others. Two of Lafayette's poems were recently nominated for a Pushcart and for a Best of the Net Anthology award respectively.