I met her in the Public Library, reading Sir Thomas Wyatt,
the Elder, the Renaissance court poet you know, you know the one
about the deer, they flee from me, like how tourists scurry away
only in the poem it's the beggars, the lovers, the deer
who run after having fed, the deer refuse to return to his hand,
it's a sad story.

An educated woman, and a clean one: she bathes in the restroom
on the third floor; when she begs on 42nd Street she's a queen,
a rock in the current, impeccable, correct, her open palm
smooth and dry as a hen's egg. Her knitted cap covers hair
I've combed out with my own fingers. She comes to me

after rush hour, and we walk like in the movies, down alleys;
she recites poetry, she wears moonlight and neon like a crown,
and we eat whenever we please. Sometimes I find an empty dumpster,
not one near a restaurant but a business dumpster, one that held
shredded printouts, canceled checks and memos, fax paper, forms,
and we climb inside, concealed, sheltered, and make love. Once

when she was angry, she crawled out of the dumpster and beat
on the metal with an abandoned chair she found outside, thunder
whispers in comparison; it was the sound of absolute hell, utter
destruction; my head hurt for a week. I know I'm not the man

of her dreams. I'm King Lear on the heath, crazy, cold with
despair; I rave; my clothes are shabby. With my kingdom
divided, there are no more decisions to make, and my mind
gets weak. She is a scholar; I am afraid of books. I rave
and she listens to me, comforts me, tells me my daughter
will save me one day and I believe her.

--- From Tackle Box
Patti White
©2002 Ashinga Press
Box 10595
Tallahassee FL 32302

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