The Daily Parker

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Poem: Late goodbye

"Got here early.
You know me, how I take the bus down...
Down from Long Island Shelter.
Let me tell you, that place's bad news.
I got to get outta there."

The roaches
they run for cover.
My usual struggle
to force the copy machine's door
back on again,
while she talks about her boyfriend.
And how he's picked up.

So there's a smile, "Well it's Friday.
"You made it through another week."
But really,
just can't think of anything better to say.

"You know that's right."
Keeps shaking her head,
"'Cause you know me. And how I take the bus down."
Yeah," she practically vows.
"Me, I won't pick up."
With those keys wrapped around her waist:
they're from A.A. and N.A.

Another routine part of my day.
A roach crawls into someone's coffee mug.
Over the phone - She sounds
well, out of breath.
"Me it's my leg. Can't you tell them it's my leg?
And I won't be in. Today or the rest of the week."

Happens so fast
don't even think
to say good-bye.
The roaches
they retreat for a little while.
There's always one crisis
after another and takes a few weeks for me to ask,
"Where's Latasha?"

"Sit down," they say. "Sit.
Latasha's picked up.
There isn't much time now you know.
She hasn't got much time."

Yeah, time.
No late good-byes.

April 1997, Winthrop, Mass.

Copyright ©1997 Dena Barisano

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