Poetry

Poem: Nowhere, Man

By: Derek Harmening

On the last day of my twenties
A soft snow fell.
Quietly, almost apologetically,
As though embarrassed at having burdened us all
With the memory
Of winter.
It hugged the narrow sidewalk like a fitted sheet,
Covering treacherous ice held over
From last week’s freeze,
And thaw,
And freeze.

On my way to work I passed
A spent Busch Light can in a dead garden,
And a Domestic Uniform Rental truck, its panels
Grimed with salt and dirt.
I heard bootheels clicking behind me,
And hugged the grass to clear a path,
But when I turned
I saw no one,
Just the faint ghosts
Of my own Bullboxers.

I took lunch alone,
Huddled over a polystyrene box
Of fried, breaded chicken
drizzled with Crystal’s hot sauce,
And felt resolutions wilting
Before they’d begun
To bloom.

At dusk I jogged to Lake Michigan,
Breathed its sandstone waves
Suspended in increments
By cold and persistence.

Walking home,
I tried to spot a rabbit–
Their placid twilight grazing
Is a comfort, as if
They were not simply docile pests
But omens bearing tidings of good fortune–
Though none appeared.

Instead I saw, half-buried in snow,
The same, week-old newspaper
Peeking like Punxsutawney,
Glinting beneath the streetlamps
From within its pink sheath
Like a long-forgotten gift.

I stopped long enough
At the little free library
To catch my reflection and,
Beyond it,
A copy of Nowhere Man,
Aleksander Hemon’s chronicle of
A Sarajevan refugee
During the Bosnian War.
The book’s spine, superimposed
On my tired countenance,
Seemed to supplant
My sighting of the rabbits.

I thought, then, of those
Whom I loved
More than they knew,
And of those
Who loved me
More than I knew.
I brought the book home with me,
And placed it on the arm of the sofa
Upon which I would celebrate
Another revolution
With Elijah Craig and orange peels
In a galaxy far, far away.

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Categories: Poetry

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