Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer
The French teacher remains unemployed
and yet committed to a daily excursion,
able to walk past any shop, open or closed,
carrying linens or sleek shoes or pears.
Reading the encyclopedia in dim light,
a kind of swimming or prayer. No pets,
no children either and no regrets.
The neighbor notices much of this
but fails to muster compassion,
turning back to the long howl of the blues
and his own preoccupation with philately.
No one is traveling in the corporal sense.
Thin trees cast shadows on the avenue,
suggesting incarceration or clever design
or even a cast of pencils about to scribble
the ultimate piece of fiction, where everyone
is saved, the teacher given gainful
employment and the neighbor, a valuable stamp.
Eradicating loneliness as a sweet rain
begins to fall, amid echoes of the dead, passports
clutched in their shivery hands.
“Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer” is reprinted from Happy Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and originally appeared in Seattle Review.
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seattle Review, Bellingham Review, and others. She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children. Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, held a residency at Hedgebrook and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook, There are Crows in My Blood, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007 and another chapbook, Happy Darkness, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011. She lives in Seattle.