Getting and spending wear thin here with
these blank storefronts – an abandon Borders,
a failed electronics, a failed toy store.
They have been crossed off, shorted out,
played out, however you say it, it’s the same
hollow feel that words always seem to bring.
The few clerks in the remaining stores lean on
counters and stare into the near distance –
so few to check out, so little reason to restock.
The “Our Biggest Close Out Sale” sign seems
ironic, almost tragic, along with the “Buy One,
Get One Free” sign in an empty store window.
Even the teenagers hanging around in the half
empty food court seem old, as if their energy
and beauty have been used up just getting here.
Things have abandoned us, left us like this,
a ghost town, a wreck, a ruin, a wasteland, but
still we have acres of free parking all around us.
Going sixty-five, three lanes deep,
almost bumper to bumper,
In pouring rain and swirling fog,
I saw a road sign that said,
Scenic area ahead.
Life is like that, sometimes.
A light flashes on, flashes off,
Is there, is gone,
Especially at sixty-five
In this pouring rain,
This swirling fog.
I still count to five; stressful, anxious times
Centered, focused; learned the trick early
In kindergarten, I recall Sister Mary Something
Teaching us to count off: one, two, three, five;
Lord help us if we missed a beat, everything
Would stop, start over again, until we got it
Right; this was before they knew, what we know
About attention deficit or all the distractions of
Being five and needing to count off like that,
Numbers wander too easily, but eventually
I, like most of my classmates, got it right and
Counting to five became one of our eternal
Verities, like the importance of good behavior
Or the wisdom of our teachers; counting to five
Has stayed with me better than so many things,
I have had to stop to count too many times and
I rarely miss a beat and have to start over again;
The number sequence is simple, reliable, soothing
Something that has not changed over the years
I never count to ten, after five I find I was lost.
A breeze stirs only slightly –
brightly colored birds and
flowers disturb us – only slightly.
Then memories expand, mend
the seasons to this moment, these
sounds, the feel of the beauty we
steal from time, capture for this.
This fragile, fragile sense of peace
surprises us, off guard, this revelation,
this resolution to the disconnection
we have felt all along, for so long.
Why, whole theologies have been
built on less than this – an epiphany
of daisies, an ascension of butterflies,
the resurrection of delight.