"All My Sad Captains"

by angeliska on March 14, 2004

I realized upon waking up recently that I had forgotten a birthday- my own.
I somehow had forgotten my age for the last three months or so,
and have been telling people automatically
that I am a year younger than I truly am.
It couldn’t be that I’m just in denial
that I am a quarter of a century in age now-
or could it be- that insidious Orson Welles complex
creeping up through my cerebral cortex?
How extremely odd.

There is a crooked man
who walks a crooked mile
just to see my smile.
Really, he does though..
His bones are bent and twisted
and he ambles along in a zig-zag way.
He touches my hand and calls me scalawag.
I have always seen him getting by
with his cane and his hat
and always smiled at him
when whizzing by on my bicycle.
And now I know his name
and he is my friend.

Another man came calling
into the shop right after-
this one had no hearing, no words..
Long ago one would say deaf and dumb,
but perhaps I am the dumb one-
as I do not know how to speak his way- with hands.
He uses the universal language of gestures
to indicate to me that he once knew
Ruthie the Duck Girl,
and how her ducks would follow her everywhere
and oh how he loved her.
He also points out that fortune telling
is for the birds.

I have a tendency to fall in love with
strangers on the street, acrobats, buggy-drivers,
choirboys, gypsy girls and beggars.
The faces that you see once,
and then never again.

Many things are just subtly awry at the moment,
and the drizzle and shiver of wet weather
weights down my heart
and makes me sing lovelorn
songs in stairwells.
If there were bones to consult now, I would-
or a sphinx, the southern oracle, various entrails..
But the drear will pass, dear,
and in the meantime..

I ask you-
What comes between a man and a woman
but allows everything?

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