Five feet from the stop sign, scraped and shivering
From the streaks of air that buffeted
All the world but you.
You squatted on that plastic stool.
It couldn’t have been more
Than a foot tall,
But you leaned against the metal rod
That jutted out from the earth.
And you read.
The carnations you sold
Were just an accent
To the subtle color you exuded,
A pale yawn reflected against the sunrise,
Your face not worn,
You’d already tried on a dozen other masks
So you could settle on this one.
How many days have you sat
On the corner of this place,
Handing splotches of petals like
Talismans in exchange for dollars.
Page in the book saved,
Trade for a trade,
In this place,
The only warning
Is the flash repelled from
Shards of past blows,
Glass glittering in headlights too late,
Masked by suffocation of night because
It is empty,
In this place when your buckets of bouquets
Your everyday mask slipped off
So it can leap onto day with dark,
Trade for a trade.
The scraps are nothing but
Someone else’s new past.