Stand at the edge of any abyss
with pen and pad and take down
impressions of the depth,
your lines short and terse:
no one comes to a cliffside
expecting drawn-out description
of rocks and brambles along the fall.
Be brief as the descent
after one false step,
when the world’s center tugs
its children back to the hot heart.
Your eyes slide past rusty stones
and sassy scrub trees that poke
rude fingers into careless air;
let these guide travelers hurrying
to reach the base without concern
for darks and lights, the shading
of green to umber and red, unmoved
by twitter of leaves or startle
of a cardinal’s wing.
Be There But Don’t
Tag Sale At Oak & Birnam
(the Woods are moving)
Need Good Health Insurance?
See Me About Cosmetics.
Toy Trains Wanted
Work From Your Home
Tattooing While You Wait
(Can’t I leave my arm
and come back?)
Firewood Cat Missing
Reward Open House This Way
Remember to touch each marker,
mark its track in cracked wood,
flap from note to note,
a treasure hunt with no end.
Hammered through splinters
in re-planted tree-trunks
these deciduous pages peel,
drop off after a night’s rain
A sudden storm has cracked the ceiling,
and sheets of light that glare aloud
in the damp sky show him behind the
of plaster the guts of his house.
He picks his way between crumbled chunks
where the roofer’s flashing failed
to shelter the tiles, where squirrels
at the frame of days and nights.
A can will catch the drops,
a sheet of plastic wrap hides baubles
from rain and rust.
The steady spit, spit of falling water
wakes him; he’s drowning in air
too wet for human lungs.
He knows he’ll have to leave this
familiar books mildewed and rank,
curl of the carpet under his bare soles,
the way he knows the distance in the
from his bed to the next room and the
So many people scan
telephone poles, for signs
the town still lives.
Three balloons blare JoAnne’s
Surprise Party at 4, Sally’s House.
Feinfeld, M.D. is Nephrology
Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, New York
and is a published poet