Imagined Poverty


You are six or seven

small enough to fit into a cardboard

box.  The rooftop is an expanse

of concrete, empty except for the

box against the parapet, set on its

side wherein you sit, huddled.  You

in your red winter coat with the

fake sheep fur on the inside –

your brother has one just like it – and

your boy’s bowl cut.  You look

out on the blank concrete, you can’t even

see over the edge.  The wind blows cold

but there’s nothing to blow there save

the flaps on the box.  You hug yourself

and imagine you are poor.

All you have in the world: the box,

the concrete, the cold wind.

What nectarous pity you feel

for the you who are poor, this

feeling you squeeze from your imagination –

you know both pain and pleasure.  Is life and

intimation of life.




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