Laura McCullough

Mass Production - Poem by Laura McCullough

Sitting next to me on the plane, his arms jerked as if he
were almost out of control, and any moment they

might start to flail. Fear colored his shirt and hair,
but didn’t bleed over the armrest. Next to him,

a woman crooned about where they had parked the car.
She murmured about the interstate, the tolls they’d paid,

the time it took. She mentioned a restaraunt and then
another, maybe seven or eight, in detail, the chefs,

the cuisine, the locations. He barely spoke, but nodded
vigorously. Her hand was on his knee and her fingers

drew small eddies in the denim. I could hardly keep
my eyes off them, but kept my body turned politely

to the window, leaving my head cocked just enough
I could see the knee and hand without seeming to.

Once in a city on New Year’s Eve, hundreds of people
trapped in a blocked ally, so our bodies were flush

with each other like bottles jostling on a conveyer belt,
the fear began to ripple through the crowd in a wave.

One man scythed his arms in arcs to force a space
around himself. One woman picked up her child

and screamed. Behind me, a woman surrendered.
She let her body go against the other bodies. Mine

was one, and she lay her chest across my back, cheek
against my shoulder blade. I resisted the urge to look

at her. Instead, I stared at the hollow in the neck
of the man in front of me, certain I would maintain

the small space that separated us as long as possible
and whispered words to him I’m sure he didn’t hear.

Comments about Mass Production by Laura McCullough

  • (10/23/2005 5:16:00 AM)

    This piece was interesting. I think what unifies the 2 events described is that in each case, you're watching, focusing and the other person(s) don't know you're looking at them. Your descriptions are extremely vivid. And of course I, too, sometimes observe people, careful not to show that I'm doing so. (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, July 2, 2005

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