Standing Closer to the Shadows

Here it is, Thursday. The doors double open
and back, weighing and closing. Sinuous
students dash into endless acquainted complaints,
their echoes toed across linoleum. Gestures
scatter. Kin, planets, angels, threads. Where I see them
is the point of the future. The next bell disassembles
my mind. This town is ragged by juniper and rent
due the first. I can’t call a single one out: not
the young woman with glossy black tresses who thrills
to her phone hidden beneath homework
nor the round-faced one pressed to the tape-laden
table, exhausted from sleeping the darkness on streets
with her mother. Despite the dazzled desert sky,
detail work for a child. I came to wake them, to wrest
what’s to come: Walmart, common curses, angular
bullets. Vocabularies in multiples. I drove curved
dirt roads past stretching ostriches to teach but their
hearts creep behind fences to feel other bodies. One in ten
are hungry, homeless, no difference. Everything I have
to do today is not what I realize I need to do: erase
the threats. Try to rid my voice of the taste
of a verdict. Page length. A scrawl, saliva, low lie;
they sit in the spell of slit windows. Recurrent
light’s murmur. Every hallway I look down to shadows,
a kinetic present tense. No way to calm or bite back
what’s waiting to empty them. On the way
out, after the gates, I speed past an elder moving
his goats to new pasture, the hills unbelted. The beasts
bleat. Toward home, I think of my instruction: how I said
sweet fruits and options. Got breath and soap. And the bells
sludged again and they went right, forward, doorway
back. The open road is a question. We are still
in winter. The roofs are flat. So much unravels but I
can see in the distance a color inside a shape and a spray
of wind. The air weighs nothing. I drive and squint,
the wide sun a pearl in my eyes. “Be strong,
be strong, and we will be strong” is said at an end.
What am I asking for? The spirit. What I was after.