There’s a retirement/care facility on a very busy stretch of Clark St. in my Chicago neighborhood. The dining room looks out onto the sidewalk so that when you’re walking by you can’t help but feel like you’re in there with the residents. I have no idea if they feel like they’re out there with us.
On a recent frigid April afternoon I walked by and saw a man sitting alone near the window, eating ice cream. He gave me the gift of a hundred emotions that I’m still trying to sort through. This is one of them.
The chill rains came they never stopped coming people faces buried shuffled by in the gray din of a bus’s gutter wake and the wind’s incessant shaking of premature screens
In Mississippi or Alabama it was always unclear after multiple tellings and murmerings this year’s cotton awoke to hardened ground made soft to the sound of a spring rain
The first floor window eye-level with the passersby sidewalk motion reflected inward as the skies turned pale and dark to mama and grandmama and summer ices given to the children in the hot July sun Sunday afternoon a day for rest and ices
The CTA stops for no one the traffic spits and sputters like the dining hall chairs sturdy and salmon on hidden wheels with backs that recline or bolt upright in place
Eat. Move. Rest.
Repeat the motion of spoon to bowl spoon to mouth hold steady now try for bigger bites there you go
Now Chicago man southern soil colored suit of red and brown flag lapel and duty cap watch the world go by one block one person each time
Rest. Move. Eat.
That white vanilla in your dark hands be careful now you don’t need me to tell you
What is it then that I can do?
What do I feel when I feel for you?
The sky breaks and a shrouded sun hints at something higher up shining down and my image suddenly reflects outward
It’s me I’m looking at as your spoon so slowly moves from bowl to mouth
Eat. Move. Rest.
Go on now, go there ain’t much to see here