one-twelfth of our lives is wasted
standing in a line.
The sacred path of that.
Ahead of me, a man in black, his broad back.
Behind me, a woman like me
unwinding her white veils.
And beyond us all, the ticket-taker, or the old
lady with our change, or
the officials with our food, our stamps, our unsigned papers, our
gas masks, our inoculations.
It hasn’t happened yet.
It hasn’t begun or ended.
It hasn’t granted us its bliss
or exploded in our faces.
The baby watches the ceiling from its cradle.
The cat stares at the crack in the foundation.
The grandfather flies the sick child’s kite higher
and higher. I set
my husband’s silverware on the table.
I place a napkin beside
my son’s plate.
but not tonight.
Ahead of us, that man’s black back.
Behind us, her white veils.
Ahead of us, the nakedness, the gate.
Behind us, the serene errand-boy, the cigarette, the wink-and-nod, the waiting.
Beyond that, too late.