November 2, 2023

Worthy of Note

after Walker Evans’ Sidewalk in Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1936

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

It’s this face that needs telling of. Angles
of sunlight and shadow have seen fit to
mask him, one of several roughs loitering
outside what used to be a barber shop.
Everything lost to the degradation
of the particular is worthy of note,
from his boney ankles to what passes
for discussion when not a single word

survives this dusty what-we-like-to-call
moment. If he took out his mouth harp
and started up a tune, at least old shoes
would keep time and this would be
more a dance than anything still enough
to be said to be a waiting. Which is
what it is. Even the car hasn’t been
driven anywhere free of dust for years.

It has the downcast look of having been
abandoned to rust and what music
a dry wind might be able to call forth
passing through it. If Whitman were to
be waiting somewhere, it couldn’t be
anywhere with more dignity than this,
the lilt of a lone mouth harp in the air.

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