I’m taking a late morning walk with Steven, hoping our favorite brunch spot will have outdoor seating available so we won’t have to tie Billy up to the bike rack outside.
I’m holding Billy’s leash and our tote of brunch reading material, and Steven is holding the small green bag of Billy’s first poop. Steven has gotten too close to bumping me with it several times. “Steven, please hold the poop in your left hand,” I remind him. He doesn’t know when he’s touching people and when he isn’t.
We pass the flower shop where Steven bought me the flowers I wanted for our anniversary. The sidewalk narrows and a young woman approaches. Her hair is unbrushed and she is wearing basketball shorts and drinking a large soda at ten in the morning. I wonder where she’s going, looking like that. I hug the right side of the sidewalk but Steven doesn’t catch the cue. He doesn’t move over at all. I nudge him. And in that exact moment, Steven’s sack of feces, on the upward side of the swing caused by Steven’s bouncy walking, flops against her basketball shorts-laden thigh.
Everyone stops. Even Billy knows that someone has been wronged. Steven looks down at the ground. “I’m so sorry.” He begins in a low voice.
The woman looks behind Steven. She does not seem very upset. Her posture and expression are neutral.
Steven’s breaths become shallower. He looks over to me. “Please, hold this,” he says, flinging the poop bag at me.
Steven turns away from us, reaching deep into his vest pocket. Hands fumbling, he pulls out a Ziploc bag containing several Starbucks gift cards, and removes one of them. “I’m so sorry,” he says to the woman, holding out the card. “Please take this. Please. Treat yourself.” Steven struggles to exhale between each new breath.
The woman opens her mouth to speak, then closes it, nods, and takes the card.
She looks behind Steven again. When he doesn’t move, she walks into the street and around him, and continues down the sidewalk. She holds the Starbucks card against the large fountain soda in her right hand.
We watch her go.
Steven holds out his hand.
I am glad I brought reading material.
Sara Adams is the author of four poetry chapbooks: Western Diseases(dancing girl press), We All Have to Keep Our Heads (Ghost City Press), Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press), and Think Like a B (Stale Objects dePress). She is an assistant editor at Rivet Journal, and her work appears in journals such as DIAGRAM, Shampoo Poetry, New Orleans Review, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Sara lives in Portland, Oregon. www.kartoshkaaaaa.com