visiting hour

the rain paints a glow
around each arc light
high above the yard
like haloed harvest moons
and water drips and sparkles
on the chain links.

the moms are not
on average bad-looking -
one in tight knit pants
another with flowing red hair.
they leave one at a time.
they do not speak.

then a mom and a dad
come out together
gesturing against
the glaring dark
their mutual laughter

but their faces harden
as they divide toward
separate cars.
and the door buzzes out
another mom who turns the corner
and I see the common feature -

a stiff set to the jaw
eyes somehow unfocused
and a walk too quick
not brisk but more as if
afraid they might begin
to run.

one or two attempt a proud
look of self confidence
but their eyes betray -
shadows surround them
from the many lights -
they walk in pools of shadows.

and you turn the corner
past the red sign that reads -
Warning! Juvenile Detention -
framed by lights and barbed wire
you are momentarily

your face in that same set
like some sort of stroke victim -
your eyes pools of sorrow
and I spill this sad cup
of coffee that was all
I thought to bring you.

you stand there in
the shadow of the car -
out of the lights nothing
in your hands and we wait
to look each other
in the eye

and watch instead
the rainy blacktop
and the one short shadow
you cast now -
the size of a
small boy.

and glancing back together
we must look away again -
look up to see
the moon has built
a fence
against the stars.

from: Grift
© 1995, God's Bar Press, Stewart Manor, NY
Published in Cross-Connect, University of Pennsylvania, 1995.

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