The Constant Leaf


I wish my father was here.
His features were calm and striking,
even when his breaths were horrible.

Remote pale yellow sunlight
behind a screen of clouds.
Landscape in darkness.

Rain comes straight down
in dense strands that cover
the street with rain froth.

The trees are so full it makes everything
seem constant but fragile,
as if any moment could be the last.

All the news is the same news:
somebody bombing somebody,
somebody cheating somebody,

somebody hurting the one they love,
so we talk about forgiveness
in a low-key unabashed way:

forgive me for the errors of my youth;
forgive me for the fatal, incurable
virus that caused your blindness;

forgive me for the Stinger that blew
up your tenement. The wind
tears a power line from a pole,

sparking a transformer,
and the brick pavement is saturated
like mud. When I close my eyes and hold

my breath, I can stay in one place,
detoxifying experience like a kidney.
It’s strange how the past holds on to us,

how the rapture of the lonely shore
is agreeable only if we can,
at any moment, escape it,

and how the night feels
so indispensable, soothing.
On the television,

at the white-domed Capitol,
a white man in a white room
lifts his glass of white wine.

I’m always searching the faces
of strangers for a friend.

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