Frannie Lindsay

To a Man in Rags Holding Out a Cup | A 100-year-old Man Asks Me to Write about Something
February 21, 2016 Lindsay Frannie

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 is the author of six volumes of poetry, most recently The Snow’s Wife (CavanKerry Press, 2020) and If Mercy (The Word Works, 2016). She is the winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award, the Perugia Prize, the May Swenson Award, and the Washington Prize. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has taught numerous workshops on the poetry of grief and trauma. She is also a classical pianist.