His left eye is swollen shut from the punch
the night before and I can see how blue
his eyes are by looking at his right eye,
how the pupil, as black as night, is not round,
but has a tear drop shape dropping from its center
as if he was perpetually weeping for the world he lives in.
Preacher Ollie comes over from the mission
across the street and Diane walks over
from the boarding house, the small front porch
of this broken down house filled with neighbors,
all trying to get from one day to the next, the
labor pool down the street closed till early morning.
Sarah puts her arms around me and I can see
vestiges of her beauty in a face savagely beaten
years ago, her brain not working as well as it used to,
her walk unsteady, an old photo of herself before,
sitting on the table just inside the door
And as the hot sun slips dowOVn in a purple haze,
they tell stories of West Virginia, the swamps of Georgia,
of better days before diabetes takes some toes off, or a leg,
before Mary needed a wheelchair, before Tom’s heart gave out.
We sit in the blue light of night, Doug’s bruised eye taking on
a luminescent glow, his good eye
casting a cool all-knowing light over all of us.
BARARA SOUTHARD currently serves as Suffolk County Poet Laureate. Until the time poets can gather together again, she spends her time connecting with poets through Zoom, go-to-meeting, and any other safe way to help keep the wheels rolling in our beloved poetry community.