First The Darkness, Then The Bread

Over coffee and toast in a diner on a Friday morning,
I notice it is full of waiting, mothers for husbands, sons
and daughters for lovers, everybody belonging to somebody.
Some I’m seeing for the first time. Others I recognize,
the owner of Floral Expressions, the woman from Oracle,
The elderly people at the bar waiting for their fries, their casual
acts of grace: god forbid I say love, or loss which seems inherent
to the vinegar lady who appears every morning for a croissant.
She cuts it into threes, pours herself coffee and with both in hand begins
the ritual: first the darkness, then the bread. Until the afternoon,
when her caregiver picks her up for synchronized swimming;
someone on the phone trying to get me to donate to my father’s home,
and who’d deny him that gift, when the nurses serve sloppy-joes.
It’s something else, like that funny phrase I heard the other day,
“you’d matter kill two birds with one stone.” It’s impractical
if you think about it. And the shearwaters
on the branches over the river in that late summer dusk,
the lithograph of absence I’ve been trying to flesh out.