The note above the urinal written on a blue Post-It
told me NO H20! I side-stepped down a few tiled feet
like solo Fred Astaire, where a chunk of chewed gum—
pale pink and rigid—sat forlorn next to the drain.
I was alone among the mirrors and empty green stalls,
but not alone. The janitor with the black Sharpie
told me where to go with his scrawl and the man
who’d spat out the once-sweet-now-flavorless wad,
perhaps he sat in seat 17B to Tokyo or Duluth right then
and pats his coat for the rest of the pack. You want a piece?
he’d say, and I’d say no, but thank you and go back
to my paperback or crossword. The third stall
so covered in rust it looked ancient, the First Urinal
of the First World, ceramic under tribulation, through tribes
of traveler upon traveler, the endless procession of men
voiding coffee and coke and Gatorade, vodka, tap water,
beer, and Perrier. Where are they now, these men
of the world? To homes and cubicles and bedrooms,
and cars. To cars: Toyotas and Chevys and Saturns and Kias.
I’m done. I want to brush my teeth, tongue heavy
with cheeseburger and fries from the chain restaurant
on Concourse B but I don’t have the right tool. I travel light.
The mirror clears, freshly wiped, and behind me a hundred
faces stare, some smiling, some weary, one weeps:
too long on the road, too many days away from his wife,
his child. I raise my hand to them, an index-finger
pistol and wave once in hello, and goodbye, and see you
later alligator and until we meet, and never meet, again.
John A. McDermott’s work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Humanities Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. His first collection, The Idea of God in Tennessee, is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. A native of Wisconsin, he now coordinates the BFA program in creative writing at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.