Poem Push

girl at tableI hurry home.
A poem is coursing through me,
pressing against the competition.
Cadence sure.
A sweet aroma wafting.
I follow it, letting my nose lead.

Half phrases come and go,
courting, coy.
“Oh, there’s a good one,”
I compliment myself. “Don’t forget it.”
Gone in a taxi’s siren.
A stream of faces passes by.
I press forward,
past boutiques, flower stands and markets.
The markets are the hardest to ignore,
the colors of the fruit implore.
But I know poems.
Temperamental and highly sensitive,
one wrong look and they are gone
like a lover in a huff.
They make you wait
and wonder when they’ll call.

I count the blocks
and flights of stairs
and keys in locks.
I debate between the toilet
and the pen,
feel guilty for my choice,
all the while promising
full devotion in one minute.
At last, I sit to write.
A sweet relief and sense of victory:
I will save the village,
decipher the code.
But all that remains is a single line:
     A child passed through me twenty years ago . . .
I sit. Outside, fragments still wander,
jostled in the crowd,
small phrases curled in doorways.
The stock market is rising,
unemployment down.
But the village is unsaved.
The code unbroken.
     A child passed through me twenty years ago . . .

Copyright © 2000 Susan Dane • All rights reserved.
Selection from GOOD-BYE TO WHITE KNIGHTS and other moving vehicles—III. One Hand.