Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Mall Walkers

by Dr. William Miller

They meet at the south end
by the dry fountain,
dry for an hour.

Some use walkers,
others canes; a few
are shaky but upright.

They move slowly,
in a careful line, talk
about bone doctors,

Medicare, the price
of a decent funeral:
“Throw my ashes

to the wind; I always
liked the outdoors!”
They laugh and pass

locked shops for
the young trying
to look younger:

makeup counters,
exercise machines,
bras that push up, out.

At the first turn,
an old man falters,
drops to his knees.

The line breaks
and becomes a circle
of concern.

Brought back to his
feet, he says he’s fine,
though they hover until

he can keep up. To prove
he’s all right, he tells
a filthy joke about

a preacher and a pig.
Everyone laughs and some
try to tell even worse.

At the end, the doors
about to open,
the fountain gush,

the oldest lady tells
the dirtiest joke.
“A hobo ate a woman’s

pie, then asked for
seconds; she said sure
and hiked up her skirt!”

The mall walkers are left
with that, still laughing
while their serious sons

and daughters help them
into cars where dirty jokes
are never told, old means old.