Fifty Minute Friends

by Luke Otley

Unafraid, you off-load
your current worries
about the fate
of your washing-machine.
You’re frantic
that they may sabotage
the smooth hospital chic shell,
the murky workings inside.
I imagine
American Italian gangsters,
one younger on his knees
white vest spotted with oil smudges
hair black as some dogs’ gums,
greased back
arm up to the elbow
as if in communion
with the back of your machine.
His boss,
a made guy
looks on, down
at the work
nodding occasionally,
teasing the last of a cigar
between tongue
and teeth and lips.

They’re not gangsters
I say
smiling,
but you didn’t look convinced
as your son sat patiently
taking tiny
precise bites
away from his meal;
it was like watching
someone download
their dinner on dial-up.

I think you sensed
I was thirsty
for pleasant
human contact
and so appeased me
for a full fifty minutes,
not knowing
that I am a sand castle
built too far from the sea
and my moat,
no matter how quickly
you sprint to the foam,
is always dry
when you return.