Dave Smith (2009)
You see them everywhere and hardly notice the one
cranking past as you pass on the sidewalk,
that mewling, watery eye, partly bloodshot, partly
focused on you, or some apprehension of you,
or, shrunken, one in the Giant self-checkout line,
foul as a just risen pig, in slippers, and now
the puzzled, warty face turns to you, and you’re
helpless, stunned, the routine ordinary signals are
suddenly hieroglyphics, you’re punching out
answers, your life savings gone, and a bug’s winking.
Better, unquestionably, to walk faster, left on Main,
take the boiling sun on your back, still broad
enough to hold whatever comes next today.
That’s the trick of it all, knowing you can,
without thinking, navigate, slide, cut quick
the way kids on front yards do in that smell
of mowed grass, sweat, youth, not dusk yet,
a tumbling brush of bone and skin only sweet
proof of no intent, intersection and angle, the right
desire of things as subtle as what fireflies mean.
Once my wife and I, following the girlish Realtor,
opened a parlor door, brownstone dim, cool, two
bodies in pajamas pushing up in a musky bed
no one supposed to be there, husband and wife,
I’ve thought all these years. Their throats opened,
calls horrific as ungreased gears, dry pistons, us
already heeling out. Did someone later come,
explain who we were, snafus, that unlocked door?
Or did they lie, walls creaking, until dawn, bugs
at windows like words in their mouths, on and off?