The Last Straw
Ahh, she thought. The last straw in the box. And she smiled.
She held it up to the light: pale, opaque, paper.
She placed one tip to her lips, the other end to the edge of the
pooled juice that had only recently spilled from the ruined
orange rind, now squeezed almost dry. And she sucked.
Heaven, she thought, was that straw-rattle of juice and air,
rushing up to meet her lips, her tongue, her throat,
through that one last paper straw.
He had spun
an entire field of it,
and not one piece
to gold. And now,
now, he was down
to the last straw.
The old man, with the yellow teeth,
worked the one piece of straw he had
into the crevice between his lower left incisor
and denture. He could feel that bit of
meatloaf, homemade, its ever-so-slight
pressure, promise of dessert. Knowing
he still had more made him smile, even wider:
He had all afternoon to work the problem out.
A flash of light
in the gray
cinders of the asphalt
a gold band, you think?
There it is
again. A strand of yellow
hair? It catches
the eye, and holds:
It is just
a single piece
of straw, perhaps
the last piece
in the world,
dry, curled back
save for that color.
He had been riding his bicycle. The force
Of the impact had been so great that the seat-post,
Made of carbon fiber, had simply snapped,
It had taken the police twenty minutes to find him,
There, in the underbrush, thirty feet from the road.
He was the new breed, a stay-at-home Dad,
Driving his kids everywhere, a nut about fitness, a good cook,
A good man. Broken like a shaft of straw. You had to wonder.
As always, his mother sits in her porch chair, an ocean and
A continent away, rocking as the clear night comes on,
Thinking: her other son, lost to her; now her youngest, taken;
Her family all gone. How much? Lord, how much?
Later that night, her stars came out as usual. Her slippers lay
Side-by-side under the edge of the bed. And her eyes closed, finally.
He was worried
about this last straw
he was holding
in his left hand.
this time it had been
the second-to-last straw
that had broken
the camel's back.
He turned this one over
in his mind.