A students' lounge. Carefree college freshmen
sitting in candlelight converse with all
the passion and the bubbling confidence
expected of their years. Tossing beers, they chat
about dreams and would-be conquests, breaking off
as a hooded waiter approaches, deferential,
and hands to each, enfolded in black napkin,
his individualized misfortune cookie.
Dean paralyzed by stroke at fifty-seven;
total blindness coming up for Jess.
Alcoholism then suicide for Courtney,
lung cancer within two decades awaiting Simon.
"Home lost in Texas hurricane," reads Jill.
"Arrested for embezzlement." (Oh, Aidan!)
Bryce paraplegic before the winter's over;
Darcy's future daughter killed in plane crash.
Silence, and thoughtful digestion of disasters
coiled like ghostly embryos in time's womb.
All hearts accelerate as cheeks pale. Dean
exhales in mock relief. "Hey wait, but that's...
in forty years, if it happens, so why worry?"
Bryce, shaken, as his nemesis is nearest,
vows to drive more carefully from then on.
Simon, sobered, tosses out the cigarettes
in his pocket, while Darcy wonders if she
should even have the daughter if this means
losing her to tragedy so young.
No tears, just plots to keep the moving finger
from writing their scary scripts. No doubt, rewriting,
from early changes in lifestyle or location,
could mitigate the final fate that jars
and wounds and wrenches, and thus blanches
courageous souls anemic. However well
we live, however high we build our walls
or word our prayers or plan our menus, in
Madonna's material world there'll always
be misfortune cookies, passed around
early, late, or anywhere between.
Happy the person offered only one.