|Apr/May 2003 • Poetry • Special Feature|
That the door to happiness
is unlocked by ordinary things,
is what she has come to believe.
A clerk in a hat shop or bookstore
would know this, the man who
opens the bakery, his hands
flowing with warm bread. On the street
she watches a small girl clutch
a blue stuffed poodle to her chest.
It is a furry watchdog against disaster,
against future dark rooms filled
with loss. Most nights the chrome sky
is lit by passion, more ordinary
than anyone wants to remember.
Once she rode the bus in winter,
drowsing over Crime and Punishment.
A legion of houses lined up
on either side, and she glimpsed
life through parted curtains,
as though she peeped into the mind
of some orderly god. They
remind her of the dioramas
that she created in grade school,
scenes constructed out of colored
paper and a shoebox, a bottle
of glue to hold it all together.
She sees tables set for dinner,
men and women plucked from
predictable drama into stillness.
All that she would have wished
for in that moment was the chance
to be happy, to bleach the stains
of living from a man's white
shirt and carry it back to him,
warm and precisely folded
like an origami heart.