sometimes it is easier to ignore things that sparkle
than it is to pluck them from the sky.
i never could grasp precious things
without breaking them or taking them
in pieces, sliver by chunk by sliver
crumbling till i have it all in a pile.
supervalu provides everything, right before it occurs to me;
tomatoes, charcoal for the barbeque, barbeques, corkscrews,
file folders, candles, tax forms, individually wrapped
slices of orange, plastic cheese product, for 15 cents.
the lights are kind of hazy at supervalu. they're open
24 hours here, so they try to conserve energy.
this explains the quiet, babbling music, as well as the
pained languidity of the checkout girls and boys in their
green and white jackets; sweaty, gum-popping children.
outside, i look in
at rows of whole, browned chickens turning, dripping fat
and basting juice onto a foil carpet.
i just stand at the window and watch the chickens spin
in their hot, greasy spotlight, while the street flows behind me
this street like an isle, people gliding eyes ahead
swinging bags full of stars.
west faces view of windows, actual people within
their own compartments staring back at me.
curtains are included but i don't use them, afraid
they'll break if i touch them,
they're brittle with cat pee and cigarettes.
i touch the windowsill with my fingertips,
look through the paint-stained glass
past the trees and stop signs
and into the window of his place
where he stands, ironing shirts
almost every day, while the sun rises, hovers
i don't even own an iron, i think.
i don't even stand still.
but i suppose i must, sometimes,
or i wouldn't know this about him;
he never wears pants.
i know where he's going when he leaves my view;
it must be the bathroom or the kitchen
because i can see everything else.
his kitchen is lit from the side,
i can see his legs in the light
when he opens the fridge door
and when he walks out of view
he must be making a sandwich.
he comes back to his ironing,
wipes his fingers on his thighs, remembers something.
though i am one of hundreds of windows,
one of hundreds of faces between undrawn curtains
sometimes he looks right into my eyes
and i want to turn away.
i wish he had guests, friends, lovers.
someone to distract us from his ironing;
a second man to emerge from the lit kitchen,
walk silently and grasp his waist
pull him from the ironing board, kiss his ear,
lead him by the hand to the futon,
angle so that i can't watch.
or turn out the light.
one day, when i am in line to buy milk,
i will stand behind a man without a jacket
whose shirt bears the imprint of an iron
and i will smile.