I sat on the subway sipping latte,
reading a short history of ruins.
Then, boarding the bus at Ninety-Sixth Street,
grabbed by mistake—such screwball
anti-élan!—a blind man’s cane
instead of the post beside his slouching form.
Then home to my journal and ordering in.
There are times when one feels oneself
the star of a movie about one’s life,
all nuance and dimension replaced
by scare-quote features, floodlit in plain day.
There are times when one feels a frightful cliché.
And yet the coffee tasted good,
the book set me brooding helplessly,
hopefully, on the folly of recent woes.
To every cliché, a germ of truth.
To do otherwise, a terrible falsehood.
And so, to the unthumbed cookbooks,
to the lavender lipstick bought
in a you-must-change-your-life frenzy,
a gentle not yet: this caffeine high,
this madcap tribute to Hepburn’s ghost,
this zeal for aqueducts and abbeys
compose a life, though someday they may rest
in cobwebbed attics, dear ruins of former selves.
Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.