In the urn of the lengthening day
The man who will die on my street
Is walking backward toward traffic
With his shirt on backward,
A bright orange vest, backward, and
His dirty white hair straight up
As if it were fire.
The rush of a sunset briefly
Appeases him by making windows vivid.
Then a dusk of gray lilacs.
An acrobatic bend of hillside
Seems to prolong the impossibility
Of his salvation. Though
Beleaguered, his brain is stuck on
Hope. (My girlfriend,
The German film-maker, is pregnant—
With twins! he says, dangling two used
Baby shoes in front of me.) He sings
A rough-hewn lullaby.
Virginia, his sister, whispers
Zen prayers in a single whimper.
She helps him sit down in front of the café,
More helpless than a bird, she thinks. But he is
Grinning, thanking God for the kindness
Of the yellow-haired goddesses who
Drive by waving. Hey, Tony, they say
How’s life in the fast lane?
It’s a fucking nightmare, he replies.