People who slipped thru the cracks
I talked to a man who wasn’t there.
"Well, that’s not exactly fair," he said,
"the cold still gets to me
and I only go invisible when the cops come
and I can’t keep it up for long.
It’s like holding your breath
to hold light away from your skin,
you just have to know how.
But I’m not like those imaginary people
crazies are always losing arguments with,
at least not yet."
He sounded a little wistful.
"Would you like that?" I asked.
"Dunno." he shrugged. "It’d be easier.
I always have to check the back of my knees
I keep leaving them behind
Not fingerprints, they were easy."
He held up his hand and the lines spun for me,
Like a child’s whirligig in the wind.
"Imaginary people don’t get cold
but they’re stuck with their crazies.
I suppose I’ll just go on like this
till I’m hit by a truck that didn’t see me"
He laughed, the sound low in his throat
like a beaten dog, afraid to come close enough
to a fire.
I wondered how old he’d been before
and how may other people weren’t there
And no, it isn’t fair.
Julia Vinograd (born 1943)