The heart’s every heave

Say cotton, say the crease
in the sleeve of a shirt,

the plainness in a collar,
the brim of a hat. If the future

is here, whose face greets you
in the mirror as you collect

water in your hands; as you hand
your money over the counter

to pay for bread, a cup of coffee,
a ticket? A man on the train steps

in the path of someone he doesn’t
even know, or trails another man

home in his truck for two
whole miles to spew insults

in his foreign-looking face. How
are they the future too? Your heart

holds its breath, lurches from platform
to crowded lobby. Say elegy, insistence,

not blank stare. Say danger and defiance.
Not fold over, not shoulder shrug.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Pulse.

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