Moving, changing, not moving—

In the brick-lined interior
of a coffee shop, an Asian man
seated at the communal table
has closed his eyes: in his ears,
a pair of earphones plugged into
his cell. All around, people
coming in from the street
fan themselves with magazines
or folded papers. It’s so hot
there’s more than a high
demand for iced coffees
and teas, water and ice;
and parents with little
children fall in line outside
the gender-neutral bathrooms.
How long has he sat like that?
How long will he stay?
One of my daughters says
she went on a date recently
to a nearby botanical garden,
but the corpse flower
they’d wanted to see
had already opened.
Not even its decline
was left to observe—
the pleated spathe
lined with burgundy,
now just a wilted sac
around the spadix.
Wasn’t it St. Theresa
who said Let nothing
disturb you, Let nothing
frighten you, All things
are passing away?
my heart, still so slow
at learning how to walk
the perimeter of dying:
the motionless man,
the Saturday crowd,
the inflorescence marked
with the stench of rotten
meat and putrid cheese,
sweaty socks and sweet-
heavy ammonia; a sudden
downpour that brings
a haze of petrichor
up from dry soil.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.