At Orientation

They tell us we’re lost,

but they hand out maps anyway

that clearly show us off to the side

with wild arrows pointing to the big question mark in the middle,

and we say, Thanks, that’s real helpful,

and the stewardesses adjust their hats as they smile and say,

Oh, they’re not for navigation, before shuffling us off towards the exits,

tiny doors, like tunnel entrances, just large enough to crawl through,

and give us tickets with exact times stamped on them,

like train tickets, but these come with props

each with a label that reads this is what you can expect,

the man next to me had World War One printed on his, and they gave him

a helmet with a spike on top of it, and a single-shot rifle,

other people got all sorts of things, eyepatches, wheelchairs, twin brothers

until everyone had an outfit—businessmen, fashion models, and farmers,

the soldier next to me looked at me and said, I don’t like war,

I don’t even like action movies, before waving down a stewardess,

pushing the helmet into her arms, and saying, I don’t understand.

And the stewardess smirked again, and said, Don’t worry, you won’t,

before checking her watch, and stepping out of the way

as the ticket-taker, sudden and imposing in a trench coat and fedora,

like he’d been in the SS in another life,

opened the soldier’s door and said, I’ll see you in 76 years, on the button.

And the soldier crawled into his tunnel, as did doctors, and plumbers,

and teachers,

and others with outfits we couldn’t make out or understand,

and we looked at each other before leaving, and smiled sheepishly;

At least we’re dressed for the occasion, I said,

as the man in the trench coat told me I had 82 years

as he opened the door

to some strange party.

Front page image by DVIDSHUB.

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