17 April, 2012 § 7 Comments
Yesterday after work,
I stepped off the bus with the afternoon rain
still dotting the sidewalk in brown, gray, green
circles of overlapping water
and walked into life outside of my own.
Miss H and I talked about asthma,
her blue inhaler shaking in her hand
as proof of either age or pollution — I’m not sure which.
Before I left, she combed out her silvering twists,
yelled at her grandson, turned up the buzzing TV,
let me rub her swollen ankles with lotion
and told me she was grateful for
another hour given by God on this earth.
Faith and grit, inhaled together.
Mr. W, plastic pink flashing around his neck,
and I talked about divorce
and marriage and fidelity
and what to do when the bonds of commitment
are tested to the limit
by the unpredictability of mental illness.
His bike leaned first to the left,
then to the right;
weighed down with one man’s junk
and another man’s treasure.
Smile, baby, he told me with
air whistling between the gaps in his molars,
cos you never know what the Lord
gonna allow you to see.
Luz, Abole, Miguel, Jesus and Marcelina: muddy shoelaces
slap the sidewalk underneath their skipping feet
as they run up to me in front of our gate.
Miss, miss! Luz is having a baby! And it’s a girl!
Miguel’s voice bubbles up from his round belly
with laughter and excitement laced in every vowel
while shy Abole stares singlemindedly at her left foot.
Mother and daughter, the other two women are more
sedate in their expressions but the
smiles in their eyes belie the calm.
I lay my one hand on Abole’s head and
the other touching Luz’s round belly
and I throw my head back,
looking up at the blue of the sky
and the hope of the day
and the joy of my neighbors —