July Saturday Night
Now I’m going to walk downtown to Cape Tip Sportswear
And buy a swimsuit. Downtown, noisy and busy—tonight
That feels okay to me. Long trucks still delivering breads and cokes
And not-so-fresh produce to Bubala’s and the Stormy Harbour.
The daytrippers back-packed up and gone on the ferry,
Have tossed their empties into yards, and the Sunday-to-
Saturdays gone, their vans packed, the town bike racks empty,
Gone last night’s illegal firecrackers. Tomorrow the beginning—
Another week, peach ice cream cones, foot-long hot dogs, salt water
Taffy. Cosmopolitans. Still, mornings when I walk downtown, everyone
Passing with dogs, without dogs, with containers of coffee, everyone
Smiles and says Good Morning! though some without this
Punctuation, their mouths determined simulacra of small-town
Friendliness. I like it, starting the day with a “Beautiful dog!”
Or even just Good morning, good morning, good morning.
Some conversation. Tomorrow, I’m sure of it, I’ll be swimming
In the silvery bay in my new Speedo, but tonight, something here
Has closed, something else opened in the passing faces,
In the ones who don’t smile, in the ones that do smile.
You sense another day of shame, another day of disappoint-
Ment with themselves, with the place they’ve come to,
The couples and the uncoupled, another day ending with grief,
Mouths not tight now, really, but tired or wistful, the smiles
Tired, or trying too hard, or very drunk, you feel it, you know it,
And the little town knows it, too, but to survive ignores it.
Also the dogs, the high-strung cats, the skunks and coyotes.