Walking Home on an Afternoon

Poetry by | November 18, 2007

On this afternoon
the sky glows a soft amber
and everything under it obliges
and takes on a gentler, kinder hue
–even the dry path that stretches before me
–the gray sandbar that has led me home all these years
sheds some of its harshness
and I tread it with the warm, easy feeling that
I belong,
On this afternoon
I belong

On this amber afternoon
everything before me unfolds comfortably
–like scenes from an old home movie:
At the prodding of the wind,
leaves take a graceful fall
–as if in rehearsed descent
And on a patch of grass I see a dog
scratching behind its ear
on its face an old man’s smile
wrinkled forehead
and as I pass by he greets me with a sideways grin
while he grunts approvingly
Telling me to be on my way
he cannot be worried by anything else
on this lazy afternoon

On this amber afternoon
a boy rides his bike past me
I stare at the balls of his feet,
their rhythmic rise and fall
rise, and fall
rise, and fall
rise, and fall
I stare at this steady movement
–and for a while my thoughts drift to guessing
what Mama will cook for tonight’s supper-
all the while his feet rise and fall
rise and fall
rise and fall
rise-
then, the crunch of gravel
–dust and pebbles fly from the rear wheel
as the boy lunges forward, jumps
and lays the bike on its side in
one quick, violent motion
I look up and pleasantly find
that I have reached the few steps home

The boy melts in the crowd
of women in tie-dyed housedresses
and half-naked men
“Good Morning” towels draped on their shoulders
in front of them, red lights flash and flicker
flash and flicker
flash and flicker
from an ambulance and two police cars
parked in our front yard
on this amber afternoon

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