The Man Who Never Said Much
Stepping from the stairwell in a backless, fuchsia dress,
she snatched his breath and tucked it in her purse.
It was as if frost had plugged the oracles of summer.
Trying to say something with his hands, he hit a mirror.
It didn’t get much better on the way to the river.
Fumbling for the heat vent, he got the radio’s hellfire preacher.
From the shore where night fishermen belched and threw
beer cans at catfish that wouldn’t bite, he watched a ferry
light up models of Jamestown’s ships.
What had John Smith said to Pocahontas when they first met?
Something about weeks of salty food and Atlantic storms?
Suddenly cars revved their engines, an iron deck
creaked against the pier, a man shouted Holy Jesus . . .
He fidgeted like the river twisting on its spine,
talked about everything except the food and weather.
He wanted to say: The night is full and empty
at the same time, look at the backlit clouds,
I will dry the rain like syllables from your lips.
Escape from the Chengsin Mission
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