I first see it gleaming on blue carpet—
a splash of sunlight escaped from cold outdoors
through an irregular space between
bent slats of metal blind. This coin
of questionable geometry cannot be picked up,
but still I must save it in the pocket of my memory
so the meaning is not lost before I find it.
I name it Ben, and hold vigil until
it elongates, fades, disappears.
Days slip past before I notice a smudge of ink
on my finger—a miniature Rorschach
that I turn left, then right until I recognize it:
Hello, Ben. I impulsively lick my finger and press
down on a canvas of notepaper to stamp the image,
but it is backwards and incomplete,
unfamiliar and uninvited. And now my tongue is bitter;
I have ruined my blue tattoo
and lost Ben once again, a casualty of saliva.
Now months have elapsed and I suddenly stop
on the sidewalk, earning a well-deserved curse
from the shrill woman behind me. Ignoring her,
sunlight pressing my spine, I bend down slowly to study
the heelprint in fresh dirt among young grass,
sides already calving glacier-like, water seeping
into the depression that smells of earthworm,
but there is no doubt—Ben has shown his face
and I feel resolution close by.
It is Wednesday and I am perusing Shakespeare,
or actually devouring John Grisham,
and I dip into my pocket, annoyed,
to silence the screaming guitar riffs
I have unwisely chosen for an unknown caller.
A stain on the wall hooks my passing gaze,
shockingly familiar in shape
as I snap a curt greeting at the phone,
and a soft voice responds, “This is Ben.”