Good Manners Require

From the collection published in 2015, Catch Up With Summer.

Good Manners Require

Two men walking. I know them. I go toward them.
It’s rude not to.
One man talks on the phone as he walks
Hunches his shoulders a little
as if to hear better.
It’s my brother, he shouts
as I approach
It’s my brother.
The other man strides along
looking to the side
It isn’t his brother and maybe
the conversation has turned
too personal and yet
he cannot vanish with tact. So he is working hard at
thinking about something else
I can tell. You can do that
even when someone is talking to you
but it’s even easier when
it’s not your brother.
I don’t know what the etiquette is
for this situation normally I would stop and say hello but I
wave and pass
so I can begin
thinking about something else
myself.

 

Four men walking, Philadelphia, PA, 2006.

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2 thoughts on “Good Manners Require

  1. When this happens I always feel kind of frantic, like I’m pulled in two directions – what I would like to do and what I feel I should do. Always in the past the should has won (as so often in other circumstances, too) but, I am getting so rebellious in my older middle age, and I just have lost the nicety of worrying about all the other peoples’ feelings, especially since I have begun to realize I was very often assigning them sensitivities they didn’t have! What a revelation to me.

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