With fists, with words, with kindness
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Or maybe you’re here, in Sturbridge, Mass.,
off the pike, punching the register, Roy Rogers,
a girl in a brown smock. America comes at you on buses,
in caps and shorts, fuming. What the hell,
you’re just passing each other by, anyway.
This kind of loneliness. What are words?
You’ve got chores, duties,
an inanimate world that needs you.
Sometimes, late afternoon, you scrape the grill
and figure: this could be love, these clean strokes,
the meaty shavings and steel beneath.
There are other ideas out there, in magazines
and movies, sweaters, perfume, your beautiful money.
But you see your life, that which persists,
the dumpster out back, the counter dulled
by your hands, relish troughs to fill.
Some days the clouds are so thick they seem weighted.
You are kind and not especially pretty.
You do your job. You are polite. At great expense,
you smile. Your best friend died
just down the road, in an accident at night.
You laid a pink bear before the marker
and you persisted, you persist.