by Alison Kaiser
whole milk latte
The weather was changing. Everyone was home-- sixty feeling colder than it would in Spring. She could bring Kai to the park on days like this and keep him hidden. Their only company was a kettle of hawks. Then, they were alone, until the pigeons returned.
A mom and baby arrived before she could gather Kai to leave. They sat on the bench beside hers and she pulled up her hood.
The baby said, ‘Bir, Bir!’
‘She just loves naming everything. Drives me nuts,’ said the mother, and she laughed, content speaking to the woman’s hood and greasy bangs. She nodded toward Kai as he ran along the fence, ignoring everything in the playground except a flattened plastic straw on the ground, which he brought to his mouth and chewed. ‘When did he start talking?’
One of the hawks returned and the baby pointed, ‘Bir, Bir!’
‘Yeah, they usually start around her age,’ the woman said, gesturing toward the baby.
But the mother’s round face was tilted toward the sky. The three of them followed the hawk’s descent.
The pigeons grunted and took flight, beat their wings until the slowest flier was plucked from the sky.
All three of them went quiet in the presence of that small loss and the woman’s non-answer hung heavier than the last: Her long pause during the screening; The rushed nurse eager to check the usual boxes-- go to lunch, coaxing her, hearing what was never said.
Kai picked a flattened soda lid from the mulch and stabbed it with the chewed-up straw.
The baby started up again, this time noticing a ball. The mother followed suit with another cheerful complaint, another pointless, icebreaker-question that she didn’t know was loaded. But all the woman could do this time, was pull back her hood and answer.
About the author
Alison Kaiser is a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey and is a former Associate Editor of Mudfish. Her poetry has appeared in Skidrow Penthouse and her chapbook, Undertow, was published by Finishing Line Press (2014). She lives with her husband, son, and rescue dog in Brooklyn, NY.