We gather to read

Words from the tops of our minds
and the bottoms of our hearts

As we read the words go airborne
and they surround us like fireflies
in a humid back yard at dusk

Each of us seeing the light from the
words that are meant for us alone

We catch them in our jar with the
rest of the words that light us up

Fragments of conversations that
just instantly stick, with no idea
where or when they will fit

But knowing they will

Now, they’re part of us, our vision
and our vocabulary

I believe words are viral

And when they stick, they season
and inform all the other words we’ve
placed carefully in our jars

Everything changes, grows and moves
forward in concert with a destination
not yet known

Unfinished thoughts mingle and become
new stories, with unexpected beginnings

New endings that awaken fresh opinions

New characters with richer, bolder,
more informed and interesting voices

It always starts with something small
that shows itself when least expected

An ordinary moment that blows your thinking
off course, a ricochet sending everything into
a new direction

You hurriedly calculate the tip and slide another
dollar under the heavy, white, old time diner style
coffee mug

As you stand, you grab your keys and pat pockets,
you have your phone, your ear buds and wallet with
credit card stowed and copy of the receipt

Moving through the tables you suck in your stomach,
holding your coat close across your front and your
backpack tight on your shoulder so you don’t bang
into anyone

You’re focused on getting through the gauntlet cleanly,
to the door and to the street and the rest of the day

And that’s when you hear it

Just a fragment from the table of four, just over your
left shoulder as you snake your way through

A raspy voice, tight with weary emotion as she begins
a tale of great importance to her companions

“Jesus broke my heart…”

And so, it begins…