“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?”
T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” — 1922
As locust of grief gathers its legs
for the pounce and traffic spins
in its clotted grave,
answer escapes by channel of fog.
I am seized by the question’s thrust–
turn toward ways you fanned a purse
and opened it on Christmas Eve.
A man with his face inking a sign
marked homelessness, dotting
your “I” with a tear of having more
than your heart required in wallet clutch,
pushed you to extend your gift.
You dropped $5 in his lap.
He smiled the way a cock must crow
waking up a sleeping farm.
Teeth became a rope of pearls,
real in their soft reward.
Passersby withdrew from slug trail poverty
and the wind raced its breath
toward frost and clung.
“Pocket change, that’s all we are
and all we have, trading pennies for a dime.”
The song of it all in photograph
rekindled decades hence in water bath
for wisdom’s tiny carrot curl.
“One clash with fate, that’s all it takes,”
you murmured quietly, as if your vocal chords
had violins in lumpy throat.
That single reach. Rendering a bible’s jacket
more than paper babble bound.
Undaunted by his drunkenness and sour cough,
a memory pushes through my hands.
*First Published in The Pedestal Magazine