GUM

In the swelter of summer,

In the slow, soft indents of concrete asphalt.

Humid, boiling and busy.

In the foreign pavements of neighborhood city streets,

Where patches have been tainted by tire tracks and leftover gum wrappers.

Dented and dried-out.

Two strangers stand facing one another.

Their sets of shoes turned toe to toe, with dirtied laces, untied and touching,

Looking at each other, in ways that attractive strangers might,

And forgetting to dispose of their trash.

Holding bubble-gum: Juicy watermelon.

Chewing on dark pink squares from precisely packaged papers: Square-patterned, grey and pretty.

Like they were made, just for them.

Delicious candy.

Sweet, but slightly salty and with just a hint of sour, too.

Mostly in the center and more flavorful with a swish of the tongue.

They can blow the biggest bubbles you’ve ever seen.

Waxy. Alien-like. Cartoonish.

It looks as if it might simply unattach from her mouth and float away.

Even into outer space. If he’ll let it.

Pink, precise and perfect.

But he bursts the inflated sugar with a flick of his fingers.

After all, it is just a bubble.

He bends down to tie his shoes where even at night, the pavement radiates a distressing fervor.

He must get inside. To air conditioning. Now.

She continues chewing on the mutilated bubble.

Sagging, stretchy and just sad; mixed more with salt from secret tears lining her throat.

Then, she takes it out of her mouth and places it quickly, firmly and quietly on the pavement.

Tomorrow comes and someone will step on it.

They will be annoyed, of course.

But they’ll never know it was meant for the moon.