Settle In


I’m going to sit right here in this café
and stare out the dirty window,

make a list of things I’ll never touch.
Caddisflies swarming the shores of Baikal.

Burmese jewels in the eyes of a reclining
buddha. Soap-stained soup spoon

under my hovering hand. Ceramic bowl
on a quilted placemat. Bread crumbs

from a mustache. Balled hankie on the table.
Things that make us endless.

Canvas bag stashed in the closet. In it, a ring
of keys that sound like wind chimes. A faded photo–

A woman leans over the rail of the Golden Gate.
Ship’s smoke, low fog. The black and white grip

of her hands, soft bend in her neck. Also,
a change of clothes, a tarnished music box

holding a plastic ballerina, bent and discolored.
I’ve had enough.

In New York, a comb that stole hair
after chemo. A greasy dent

the shape of a bowling ball in the recliner.
Details left behind to remind me of the pain.

Flat stones along the Erie Canal. Skipped across
to sink into rib cages of drowned cows. A child’s

legend, a scum-jumper’s lament. And the truck’s
bench seat sticky with fish blood

and stray scales. Stars in shapes of teapots
and saucers. A hole through time.

Those whose names slipped, and are slipping
away. Nothing will be the same as it once was.

I want to confess everything to stalled
traffic. I take my coffee with a dash of milk,

make it look like soft caramel. If you want,
grab a seat. This could take a while.

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