Miranda Phillips

In a World Gone Shallow


I see him across the parking lot,

a rutted expanse flattened by a dodgy paving company,

his wide eyes darting

above an orange bandana

as he scurries toward the main entrance.

A family of four explodes

onto the sidewalk, laughing. Grabbing hands.

He jumps, diverting paths

like schools of sardines rippling

away from the shark’s open jaws.

Shiny black hands pull on steel handles,

ducking inside.

Soon he sits across from me,

body like a board.

His gray eyes sinking.

Ten feet apart, maybe twelve.

I wave and point to the slender paper bag

next to my chair.

He holds his up too, dropping the bandana inside

as the nurse’s violet hands fit a light blue mask

over his face. It’s only the two of us for now

with our eyes closed and our plastic bags

that should be clear and filled with fish,

not neon yellow that drips poison into our chests.

But more people trickle in

and paper bags are creased,

sagging closer to the floor each hour.

One young woman coughs quietly. Ten pairs of shifty eyes

and hidden faces jerk to glare. And suddenly, I realize

we’ve all turned into bank robbers.

Miranda Phillips is a junior creative writing major at SUNY Oswego. When she’s not writing, she can be found hiking with her rescue dog, riding horses, or dreaming of her life as a novelist in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming.