I must love you quietly, embarrassed
by your unwieldy desolate sprawl, your cold heart
and shameless lack of fashion sense; deliberately love
what you have cobbled together so carelessly on gridded
streets predictable as a sitcom, the 1980s
a garish tattoo on your nether regions . . .
“Miss? ” His hand closes on my forearm. “You got time to help an old man? ”
It takes me a second to see it—his eyes are useless.
How can he tell I’m not a missus, a ma’am? Can they smell that deep?
He gives my arm a squeeze . . .
Mo cannot take Fridays off. As a result he finds himself praying in the eastbound streetcar on his way to work. He assumes the appropriate position—as if holding the Qu’ran in hand—and enters a meditative state of worship, mumbling to himself at points where he usually sings when in the privacy of his own room . . .
In our fifth roadside motel room Alice is standing in front of the mirror examining her face carefully. She is wearing nothing more than a pair of white knee socks with a tiny lavender bow stitched just above the back of each slender cotton calf . . .