The Street Is Sowed With Cans
The street is sowed with cans;
she does not recoil from the bounty —
she is an American.
Her quivering talons pick the
knot with a master’s patience,
nimble thumbs pry and
part the plastic sack wide,
fold down it three notches for inspection,
and while one hand braces,
the other, gripping tong, dives into
the lode to pluck an aluminum diet Pepsi,
pours its content at the curb,
pitches it into her cart,
and resumes the excavation.
Now she forks and sets aside the milk
gallon obstructing the outstanding currency:
13 cans of Coors Lite, 7 7-Ups, 10 more diet Pepsis,
2 single liter Schweppes seltzers,
and 16 small Poland Springs;
adding the two bundles bulging right
and left of the cart totals $13.70.
Bag resecured, she leans against
the cart’s handle to straighten herself —
though never fully —
assigns her weight to the truck,
and merges into the tide of lunch-breaking
laborers, construction workers, patrol cops, tourists,
and the mercurial throng of New York pedestrians.
She’d insinuate into your vision:
her face, a handsome and distant moon
wrapped by chin-long grays,
her billowy trousers of crisp-dark acetate,
her blouse inhabited by small muted flowers,
her quirky gait — wispy lumber freighting
an ocean’s girth, a century’s half,
tectonic fragments of other lives lived
with a mother, brothers, grandfather,
cousins, aunts, children, and a husband,
splintered hauntings of famines and revolution,
bewildering fortunes in an alien land.
She will tow them all into this ground,
and she will become it.