Shifters Scatter Across the Sidewalk

“Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.”
—Leonard Cohen, “Bird on a Wire”

A poet
loves the
songwriter. A
songwriter doesn’t
love the
poet back.

Her speaking voice carries
loudly through half-bare branches
of trees that won’t give it all up yet.

His handwriting
is only
half legible.
The words
slant to
the left

before reaching a perfectly
perpendicular rhythm as the stone wall
blocks the light.

No box
of mirrors
will rescue
the colors
lost inside
his song.

She doesn’t want to trap him
into seeing her. He saw her
once but got drunk

a decade later. Now
the poem needs a door
to lean against.

It’s the singer who discovers
the gap they have tried
so hard to conceal.

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