I wanted to feel stillness
so I went for a walk, watched
the cobblestones pass
beneath my feet, then bricks,
slate, dirt, concrete—

In the square, the grass was burnt
from last week’s festival; on the corner,
a man played saxophone
and I wanted to tip him
but had no cash.

It was spring: even the distant
jackhammer seemed harmless
to me in my weariness which returns
like a season itself,
and with it the impulse to flee or retreat,
renounce, stop trying so hard
to keep this life afloat, just let it sink,
soundlessly, to the quiet
bottom of something.

But there were birds, too, if I listened,
and they made me
look up to the soft clouds,
and it is always hard to know
whether they are rolling in
or rolling out; whether the smell
of charred meat in the streets
is gruesome or enticing.

And regardless, you could find,
on the sidewalk, a folded ten-dollar bill,
and feel fortunate, for a moment, as I did,
before wondering how many times I’ve lost
as much or more, how many times
I will be lost and found again.


From Notwithstanding, (Wet Cement Press, 2019). Posted by kind permission of Wet Cement Press.