Angel's Flight, Vol. 4.2 (1979)

David Trinidad

Up in his office,
as he sits at a neat desk
an allotted pipe-full,
the familiar

of the dead and the faces
of those disowned
flare before him
like smoke heightened

to silver
in the late sunlight--
his wife
(six years since
cancer caused her white

flesh to slip
from his devoted touch),
the eldest son
(long hair and a beard

refuse their resemblance),
the other
(cracked like a knick-knack
in a car accident
at seventeen),

and the daughter
who tiptoed
out of his life one night
while he slept,
tiny as a pea

beneath king-sized sheets,
and dreamt
of a faulty elevator
hammering him
into its sudden depth.

He pauses
to check the clock.
That boy--
the blond one he wanted
in a Village bar

over thirty years ago--
could he have changed
Or if he'd stayed overseas?
He might have died

but would have written
(America meant
opportunity, prestige,
and sparse seminars

in Chaucer).
His regrets stop,
an interior lecture
interrupted by time.
He must prepare

notes, consult
his syllabus.
As he bends over to scan
a shelf, his tan slacks sag
like loose skin.

Then, with breath
for the top of the book
selected, he blows
at the dust.

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