To a Man in Rags Holding Out a Cup
I don’t have much
in the wallet of my heart—a fortune
from last week’s cookie,
old snapshot of a sweet-faced mutt,
library card, a couple dollars
crinkled and stuffed in a hurry,
receipt with a phone number
on it. But here, I have
a smudged minute or so
that needs to be used one last time.
Tell me what it is like when
the lonely splashes of kindness land
like those first inept raindrops
that can’t know how many
cups need filling.
Then tell me about
those skies that can let
their whole selves go.
The earth is chapped,
its big hands can’t hold very much;
you know this better
than I do. We have
each of its thirsty sores
in common, but also
the eager torrents like children
let out of school on a Friday.
And someone, somewhere,
decides it is time to open
a yellow umbrella.
A 100-year-old Man Asks Me to Write about Something
He asks me to remember what he won’t:
the rudimentary incandescent lights
flicked on house by solemn house, their warmth
a knowing kind of life – had it always
been there?—as night fell
and the motorcars slowed down,
as evening paperboys
with ink-smudged knickers sauntered home
to set their mothers’ tables
carefully, exact; for he thinks that he was
one such boy, but maybe not; instead
he may have fed the chicken skin
and sweet potatoes to the dog, Adele,
and walked her, staying within calling distance
where the meadow ended; or snuck across
the family’s acre to skip stones deftly
over the pond’s untroubled surface;
then maybe he turned back,
the world still his.
Frannie Lindsay’s fifth volume, If Mercy was released in the spring of 2016 by The Word Works. Her others are Our Vanishing (Red Hen Press), Mayweed (The Word Works); Lamb (Perugia), and Where She Always Was (Utah State University). her work appeared in Best American Poetry 2014. She has won numerous awards and is widely published.