I am not going to write a political poem,
but in my neighborhood, a truck is in reverse.
It has been backing up for a long time.
It beeps incessantly.
It has ruined my poetic reverie.
When they were rebuilding the train station,
trucks backed up all night long.
Some people wrote the newspaper.
Get rid of those beepers, they said.
It's not good to write political poems.
They are so obvious.
That's why, any minute now,
I'm going to get back to my imagination.
But my blind friend made a simple decision one day—
simple as, shall I wear the knit dress
or wool pants to work?
She was just going to buy a sandwich;
she would leave her dog in the office
and take her white cane.
The truck had no beeper.
It was hard to know
in all that city noise
whether to stand still
or keep moving.
Soon I will be able
to stop writing polemics
and start writing poetry.
People want something fresh.
They don't need me
to repeat the obvious.
Vigilance and Dissembling
I'm fascinated by how people dissemble visually,
since I don't see and I don't have cues.
I bet they keep their faces looking fine,
unflustered, while behind their stationary eyes
another set of eyes will check you out.
I say this because, for me,
I act totally in the conversation
while my darting mind springs
at any glitch in their composure—
the revelation of an actor and a part,
a sleight of voice not covered by a mask.
Of course, I have to watch what I say:
it's a matter of tone of voice.
And I'm always listening for anything behind me.
But most of them don't stop to think
I'm listening to them breathe,
or that I hear their body language—
whether they are leaning forward in a chair
or turned away, looking out a window.
What if they find out? Not to worry.
They're so easily amused
by the magic they think that I possess.
Someone talking with her right hand while I hold her left
doesn't know how much I know from the way her body moves,
as if she never touched a tie-line to a dock
and guessed the boat was bobbing up and down.