My black wool coat puckers at the bottom
My gaze turns groundward
That’s from the hand-washing. I got it for a dollar at a yardsale.
I rolled it back and forward in the tub, watching the water turn dark. . .
After, the sleeves were just right, but the puckers remained
Into the evening sunshine flicking lint from my black wool coat
Cat fur, threads, white dust, hair, crumbs, how do I get them all?
A most unbecoming January warmth
A blue sky
(I remember thinking on arrival in Romania, the grass, the trees and the dogs are
My poor running shoes have matching holes now, on the outside of the foot, near
the pinky toe, on the mesh part
If I were to show myself to the in-laws. . .
Into the tilting pink of the evening sun
The monotony of an affluent neighborhood these days
The people in their houses, the cars in the driveway
My tarnished ambition hanging in the sky like a faded moon
What to do? day to day, minute to minute
Be content to shuffle along the sidewalk (and it is one of the more solid things I
Watch my fate merge with the cripple begging near the exit ramp
pale against the highway; give alms but look away
Look away, look away
Up into the sky at trees that never do wrong
And when the watermelon light plays among the skeleton tops
I pause – I’m the querulous child and it quells my whimpering
Oh, monotonous sunset, pat this child on the back. . .
I step out, expecting adventure
The two loaves in the oven behind me
like the sweet backs of docile animals
A jogger ahead of me, a military air about him
My over-layered self in this over-mild winter
A completely different path today
From which I expect epiphanies, at least one
“Signs of life” he said the other day. . .
When I was younger – I can say “when I was younger” now
though without conviction
Every encounter was hallowed in retrospection
Today I have it back, or I think I have it back
You see there, a fine house in foreclosure
A man paces slowly in a yard holding a broom – horizontally
And I pass by, walking and waiting, walking and waiting:
He sweeps the brick walls of his house
At the end of the road there is a tiled arch, flamingo pink, at the top of which is a
tiled image of a blue car, the kind that drags main
Is this the epiphany?
I didn’t see Christ’s face there, or anywhere
Just a crisscrossing of destinies at the intersection
Across the busy road two men standing on a balcony
Another man walking toward me swinging a white paper bag, cell phone
to his ear
Fingers of cold air slither up the legs of my sweatpants
(the ones I never remove, even when I sleep)
I avoid shadows, cross the street in search of sun
The warm hand of the sun on my back, like a comrade
The heat reaching my cheeks as if self-generated
Ah, the boredom of the same old route
I defy this boredom and walk on. . .
On second thought, this boredom. . .
This boredom that accompanies me like clumsy overshoes I don’t need
This boredom that is the very air I step into
That is blinders that keep me from feeling
Leaves me reeling in the middle of the sidewalk
I must go on – the feet do all the work
I’ll conjure up another city. . .
another going round and round
another winter, wafted forward as if
a new lover were waiting around every
corner in some fateful pose and I
only had to pause under lamps
listen to the wind embrace squalor
caress dilapidated storefronts
sweep empty snow-covered streets with
the tableaux of other people’s lives
framed and lit in convenient succession
back then, my loneliness was full.