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Ego, Venti

Who knows why this seems to work--words in varied inks secreted onto lined notebook or legal pad at Starbuck? Stricken, revised in red, or blotted under Wite-Out avalanche, composition often aspires to literature in the swelling racket of espresso steam, milk foam, fresh grind, the lay preacher's loud politics over morning tweets, innocuous corporate- vetted pop ballads from ceiling vents, the barista headset Babel probably not meant for me but for the line of cars in Drive-Through.

Even my elderly mother, in her long hide-and-seek with dementia, was probably telling it true at the break of dawn: "You just want others to watch you writing. Isn't that awfully...? Awfully...? Well, oh my goodness. What does that say on your t-shirt?" "Is it ego, Ma? Do you mean am I being egotistical?" "Why would it say anything about your ego on your t-shirt? Oh, my goodness. I guess I don't get it." "It's like this, Ma. If you've got it, you wanta take it out and show it off."

Dad coughs, shoots coffee out his nose, so maybe I gave him a laugh. Or maybe it was just hot and he nearly choked, dry toast halfway down. "What are you doing out so early?" Mom repeats. So we start over.

Back in Lapeer, the cataract sun flares in the girls' eyes: Jenny, DarLynn, Autumn, Steph. Motorists peer out of shades as change is exchanged, cell phones scanned, caffeine polymers issued out the slider. The regulars' forum now includes our cleric, but only for the issue of motor home cost and maintenance v. motel stays. He has nothing to offer re: reptile encounters on the golf course.

So where is my audience, Ma? The staff are frantic busy with a second wave as the retirees go home to weed their tomatoes. This public display of literary pretension doesn't always work, doesn't always bring blood to the right parts. But the novel has waited this long. No rush, when you know how it ends. Only have to blow on it so it doesn't scald my tongue. Looks like this is what I'm doing today.

Come see us this Friday July 6, 2018 at Bake College Flint

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