Rhoda—he calls her Rhoda
because he doesn’t know her
name—begs for money between
where he sleeps and where
he buys his beer. She’s on
the corner of Fifth and Friday
every day but he doesn’t usually
see her. When he gave her
a five dollar bill her hand
That was yesterday.
Caught in his own trauma,
he’s still feeling the magnitude of her
when he calls to tell me about the touch. I listen
while I scramble eggs. What does it mean
and did you notice—he asks
and I don't answer— everyone is caught up
in finding their own Einstein.
My mouth is full. We don’t learn
from what is here.I am eating breakfast.
She told me how she’d been born to live
fifty-three Octobers—not one November more. She scattered
her way through our town like a Great Dane pup
chasing crinkled leaves, unaffected
by the scent of baring trees. Wanting her ease,
some would mimic her, mirror the prisms
in her laugh. Once, by chance, she shared with me
her bench in Terry Park, moving aside
her cardboard bundle. She counted
maple shadows, offered to reveal how
she kept the possibility of fifty-four years
deep in her poker pocket, an ace hidden in her
greened satchel. I thought to see the usual
when she undid its clasp: twigs and twine,
Aunt Jemima syrup bottles, tins of mustard seed.
She parted the forest of brown velvet
lining the tin bottom. I leaned forward to peer in—
it opened on blue water.
Sherry O’Keefe is the author of several books
and her poetry can be read in many places.
whenever she’s out of town. Also, a piece
of her prose appeared recently on cur-ren-cy