Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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She’s shuffling around the lake in flip-flops,
pregnant belly hanging
over the open strings of her sweat pants,
and she’s shouting into her cellphone:
“You just don’t get it!”
Indigo twilight streaked with horsetail clouds.
I’m dogging her discreetly, wondering:
What don’t they get? Everything, probably.
What it’s like to be lugging her particular load,
wanted or not, into the uncertain future
while above us the sky is doing its big art-installation thing,
sunset’s last flush lighting up the west
like those pink neon thighs
on the sign swinging outside a saloon: enter here
for the time of your life.
We’re citizens of a broken city, yes,
in a dying time, yes,
amid the general din;
improbable that we’ll be saved,
but still we keep hoping,
which is to say shuffling, limping, or whizzing along —
kids on skateboards and bikes,
the woman with the pink hula hoop
swinging her hips in wide joyous circles,
Chinese elders practicing tai chi under a spreading oak,
all of us putting one
semi-discouraged foot in front of the other
while above us the absolute indifferent magnificence
from a certain perspective even our ignorance is dazzling.
Alison Luterman’s poem “Citizens of a Broken City” [February 2012] gave me goose bumps. The ending is so powerful and profound it has moved me to rethink my life.