Old Man

There are no lilacs on Sullivan street.

No daffodils. Only a few trees growing

out of the sidewalks and the broad strip

of sunrays at noon in the playground

where a woman sits on a bench

next to her groceries reading a paperback.

Last night, driving home, I backed

out of an intersection where the light

had changed to red and I struck

the bumper of the sports utility vehicle

behind me. When I got out to see

if there was damage, the driver walked up

to me with his insults. And I gave him mine.

You’re an old man, he shouted at me,

and for the first time I believed it might

be true. I could have called him a young

punk but it was late spring and the smell

of a rain shower that had just passed over

us heading for Brooklyn allowed us to return

to our cars and forget it all for the night.

The war, or what was called the war,

had just ended. None of us knew

what had happened in the land

where it was fought, only read the headlines

in the daily papers. There are no orchids

growing on Sullivan Street. The shrubs

that grow in the planters outside

my building are dusty with soot.

A woman walks down the sidewalk

in her high heels, then crosses the street,

the muscles in her calves pumping

with each step. I would call her young

without guessing her age, before looking

at myself in the shop window on the side

of the street that lies in shadow to see

my face look back at me in wonderment.

(first appearance in Silk Road)

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One Response to “Old Man”

  1. Marti Cuba Says:

    Fantatsic painted picture in words…you’re closing line “ten percent shame, five percent reason and the rest of it
    only the world waiting to be picked up and taken away” blew me away, awesome!!!

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