Thursday, December 1, 2011

unexpected dangers - louise erdrich

Unexpected Dangers
by Louise Erdrich

I'm much the worse for wear, it's double true.
Too many incidents
a man might misconstrue--
my conduct, for a lack of innocence.

I seem to get them crazed or lacking sense
in the first place.
Ancient, solid gents
I sit by on the bus because they're safe,

get me going, coming, with their canes,
or what is worse
the spreading stains
across the seat.  I recognize at once

just what they're up to, rustling in their coats.
There was a priest,
the calmer sort,
his cassock flowing  down from neck to feet.

We got to talking and I brushed his knee
by accident,
and dutifully,
he took my hand and put it back

not quite where it belonged; his judgement
was not that exact.
I underwent
a kind of odd conversion from his act.

They do call minds like mine one-track.
One track is all you need
to understand
their loneliness, then bite the hand that feeds

upon you, in a terrible blind grief.

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