Was he Billy Pilgrim?

One morning, when our tea kettle
could no longer whistle,
we took our car out to Lanesboro,
eyes still sticky with sleep,
to an old diner, unfamiliar then,
where a man sitting at the counter,
face sun-spotted and forgotten,
slumped over a cold cup of coffee,
his body, seemingly immovable,
turned towards us with movement
small and graceless, evidence of war,
as if to say, how nice – to feel nothing,
and still get full credit for being alive, 1
only reacting to the bell that hung above the door.

1. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)<href=”#ref1″>↩

Pigeon Forge

Beatriz feels alarmingly soft in your hands, and you graze her body with your palms the way you would pet the long grass by the river where you live. She tosses her dark hair aside, wraps her hand over yours, and clenches down on her own flesh.