I exchanged the milk for one with a later date. You asked what
difference a day could make. You should worry about the dust
on the chair legs and I’ll worry about the age of milk.
It’s the way the light shines that gives things away, the floating
of dust in the stillness until it settles on old wine glasses
and window sills.
When you hold souvenirs up to the light, you can see where the
dust settled into the Lake George coffee mug or the crack
in the Orlando shot glass.
Whether it’s soil lifted by the wind or the thinning of tissue,
it just keeps changing form like energy that moves from
the body to the flower.
It is my detritus with a memory of what I once was and
what I will become as it travels from a flake of skin
to the maw of a hungry mite.
In the abandoned railway depot a generation of commuters
and ticket agents settle onto the wide planks and into
the bottle caps.
Gather it up like amber from a fossil. Discard the wings and
skeletons and see who stood in the hot sun before
their last long train ride.
Sometimes when you speak I can’t comprehend
what you’re saying. The words are lost in the noise,
the hum of yesterday’s laughter and the emanations
that clang and clatter.
You could be asking me if the roads are icy or telling
me that Phoebe ate my lottery ticket. All could be
drowned out because an aroma makes noise.
I could hear the beef stew.
Sometimes when I speak I can’t comprehend
what I’m saying. I spew some gibberish because
you’re wearing flip-flops and your feet are still of
interest to me.
You could be wearing chain mail and I could still find
something of interest, your answer to why the squirrels
must be fed, your voice pleading, “oh please, oh please
scratch my back.”
Sometimes the white noise from the Brookstone box
is the distant rumble of the IRT express as we huddle
in the bowels under Lexington. You breathe softly
while I sip the Bali Hai.
You might tell me it’s time to move along, to find
some new underground hideaway. Then I wake to the
morning sun and the bouquet of violins playing in
the folds you left behind.
William A. Greenfield, a youth advocate worker in upstate New York, is the author of Momma’s Boy Gone Bad (Finishing Line Press 2017), I Should have Asked the Blind Girl to Dance (Flutter Press 2019), and The Circadian Fallacy (Kelsay Books 2020).