Ice Cream

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.

Ice Cream

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