Friday, September 11, 2009

reminded of the beauty of gesture

I have no politics to speak of,
but last week I bought a paperback version
of American History for Beginners.
At breakfast, I turned to the plume
of Hiroshima while munching
on the dark side of toast.
i was reminded of the beauty
of gesture--the “duck and cover” we learned
in grade school and how we crouched
under our desks from the Cold War...
Usually I wake at 6, brew coffee,
pack my knapsack, pull the door to,
and walk six-tenths of a mile to the train.
Today I slept late, dreaming
of flying in a small plane in a wobbly sky.
At the station, passengers loaded with hearts
come aboard, checking their watches.
Normally I don’t describe them.
Today I can’t help noticing the upright
bodies, the feet angled in as if to stay,
the tickettaker who hitches up his pants
and waits. Usually I look out the window,
or read the Times. Today I notice how
a little boy’s hair shines in the sun
and have the urge to feel his warmth
through my palm. I wonder about the synapses
that fire beneath the scalp
or our forward facing feet
when all we want is to go back...
Normally, I write about what I feel.
Now my biggest fear is failed
poems—the kind that take you
just short of understanding
and leave you there—your
hope thin, combustible
as the white flesh of cigarettes.

"Normally," Elizabeth Harrington

[Wabash Avenue at Lake Street]

About Me

Chicago, Illinois, United States