The Clash of Shadows
Entombed in the streets, we defeat
the dark by striding decisively
as pruning shears. The storefronts gaze
with wonder. A police car prowls by,
officers owl-eyed with caffeine.
We talk as if inflating
paper bags. You describe your mother
scouring the alleys of Riga
for scraps to nourish the family.
You portray your father adrift
in jobs that couldn’t pay the rent.
In concrete Socialist housing
criminals left trails of sulfur
most of the adolescents followed
to prisons dank with graveyard mold.
You aced those universal exams,
though, and once in university
effaced your childhood so thoroughly
not even the faintest damp adheres.
In the present tense a hint
of thunder embosses the distance.
We’ve almost reached the parking lot
where our cars have sulked all day
and half the night. You turn your face
to me to assess my expression
and I catch a spark of lightning
reflected in your eye. Too bad
we’re too separate even to shake hands,
as old friends should. Our talk
has described us so differently
not even the erasure of stars
can ease us together a moment
before we drive to respective homes
away from home, two small people
so alert to the clash of shadows
we prefer to be alone.
words: William Doreski, New Hampshire (blog)
image: Jeff Crouch, Texas (more)
another shadow struggle: Shadowboxing (#15)