I was forever slipping ashore
and sliding back out to sea
each time I’d meet this man along the way
I knew from some forgotten place in time
and throughout our conversations
his eyes would wander aimlessly
along the sidewalks of unfamiliar streets
like the bull bred to the ring
or the dog on end of a short leash.
“I married too soon
and became a caretaker of children, he’d say.”
I’d tell him I’ve been close
to caring a couple times, myself.
he’d always take a closer look at me
not quite sure where I fit into his world
and ask me, “Have you ever been home?”
I’d tell him that I was too old to settle down.
when I stayed in one place too long
the feet didn’t listen anymore,
the mind did all the walking
and my hands turned to old stone.
I’d tell him my hands
have always been older than I am,
reaching for air since birth
they grew a taunt coating of skin
that clings to thin bone like well-worn leather
or languid poems continually reworked
they became derelicts searching rubble,
never letting go of the romantic,
groping for pockets of soft flesh,
for handshakes, for itch,
they brush away tears, hold children,
hesitate to wave farewell.
he always takes my hand, ever so slightly,
and wishes me good luck
I’d feel the rough hand of passing years
like a blind beggar
searching my pockets of fear for change.