Into the Lives of Other Folk
You could be anyone or anywhere—
the checkout lady at the A&P,
the Uber driver sporting purple hair,
the full-sleeve-tattooed ER orderly,
the Denny’s waitress on the graveyard shift,
the Walmart greeter with his hammy grin,
the single mom, the bellboy who’s been stiffed,
the sergeants notifying next of kin.
No matter who you are, I presuppose
a motivation, blessing or regret,
inventing possible scenarios;
but I don’t judge. Each fanciful vignette
seeks some humanity in humankind,
a commonality of heart or mind.
Of course, this works both ways. It’s only fair
to wonder what you might concoct for me,
whose buoyancy can often mask despair,
who craves the saving grace of poetry.
I claim your offhand gift of shortest shrift—
it’s tough to see beyond the crepe-like skin,
the balding crown, the thoughts that tend to drift,
the turkey wattle underneath the chin.
Still, as we sort our gunnysack of clothes,
then watch them spin at Betty’s Launderette,
your story piercing ears & tongue & nose,
we joke about a lost sock, and forget
man’s inhumanity to humankind,
and let the heart begin to cloud the mind.
Catherine Chandler, born in New York City and raised in Wilkes-Barre, PA, is the author of The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press); Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press), shortlisted for the Poets’ Prize, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis), and This Sweet Order (White Violet Press). Her complete bio, a sample of podcasts, a list of awards, reviews and other information are available on her poetry blog, The Wonderful Boat, at www.cathychandler.blogspot.com . She lives in Saint-Lazare-de-Vaudreuil, Québec and Punta del Este , Uruguay .