Jan Ball

 

Margie and the Mennonite

We’ve seen the women in high-neck
summery dresses and lace caps waiting
for the bus  when we drive past en route
to downtown Sarasota.

Once we shared our table at Starbucks
with an amiable  person who we think
was an Amish man: blue shirt, black pants,
a bicycle leaning against a tree and then,
of course, Witness with Harrison Ford
punching the bully.

Now, my friend, Margie, says that she
has finally found a new companion
after her husband, Rod, died seven years
ago.

The new guy is Mennonite, she says, but he
drinks wine and worked in a micro-biology
lab with her, that’s how she got to know him.

Regardless of what her children think, she
has sold her suburban house to move in
with him on his Wisconsin farm.

We haven’t seen Margie in many months,
passing like two ships in the night, my folks
used to say,  so arrange to meet her
at the Chinese Restaurant we used to go to
with her and Rod.

Margie calls two days before our planned
dinner and says, “John wants to meet my friends;
he’s coming, too,” so we change the reservation.

I already know what I’m going to order: turnip
dim sum and hot and sour soup.

We get there first so ask for the table
in the quiet alcove with a view of downtown
Chicago where we used to sit with Margie and Rod.

Margie and John arrive and he looks normal:
nice leather jacket, short graying hair, no blue
shirt, suspenders or straw boater. I don’t get
to look at his shoes.

Soon after they sit down, John says,
“I’m a Mennonite. There’s a big range
in practices among us.”

As we talk, he tells us that when he was drafted
into the army from his Dad’s Central Illinois farm,
he declared conscientious objector status,

I think, “like the guy in Mel Gibson’s
Hacksaw Ridge.” The army trained him
in a medical field, as they do with conscientious
objectors so he didn’t have to touch a gun.

For the rest of the night, as I look  through
the steam of my hot and sour soup, I try
to introduce a variety of topics: gay marriage,
racism and equal pay for equal work.

Google has warned me that these are
hot topics for Mennonites but either the fish
does not rise to the bait or we can’t believe
everything Google says.

 


303 of Jan Ball’s poems have been published in journals such as: Atlanta Review, Calyx, Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, and Phoebe. Her two chapbooks: accompanying spouse and Chapter of Faults, and her first full-length book: I Wanted to Dance With My Father, have been published by Finishing Line Press. Her third chapbook, Day Job, is due out in May, 2020. When not working on her poetry, exercising with her personal trainer or traveling, Jan and her husband like to cook for friends.

 


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