“Trim your nose hair,” I said, which was the first thing that came into my head.
I had indeed, just that morning, stood beneath the looming presence of my six-foot-something Jesuit superior, distracted from whatever platitude he recited for my own good by the several long gray tentacles curling out of the dark cavity of his nostrils like some underwater creature.
The sun lurks past coldly,
an estranged friend
on the opposite sidewalk
avoiding eye contact
behind a turned-up collar of silhouetted buildings.
He hangs in other hemispheres these days.
I must be last season’s affair,
if he thinks of me at all.
The day opens her doors only briefly,
pulling in her awning
as schools let out,
flipping her sign to “closed”
as the shadows grow long on the sidewalk,
slipping onto the bus before rush hour.
I pass her grated storefront
on my way to and from work,
wondering if she’s gone out of business.
The papers pile on my desk,
layers moldering together,
settling into impenetrable strata,
I should have raked them into manageable heaps
and burned them back when they first fell there.
I cannot begin to make sense of them.
They are past their deadlines
waiting as mulch for the crocuses.
James J. Kempster, 2000