Learning to Love the Sky

(For Margaret)

It isn't easy to believe
the sky comes down to the ground
here, not just in the distance
behind the corner store where darkness
bleeds at the edges, but here, to say--
it is sky I'm breathing, as if that
implied heaven as well and perhaps
required something of us, like the effort
my daughter makes with her blue crayon
filling in between flowers, fence posts,
the branches of trees.

Through first tentative maple leaves
I watch young men gathered at the corner
hunching their backs to the rain.
It's easy to see they aren't watching
the sky, not with their necks craned
till they feel dwarfed and dizzy
and glad enough to spin as my daughter
often does walking home from the store
tossing the bread.

I walk myself now through this sodden group
to avoid the sewer backed up in the street.
Curses fall steady and impersonal as rain.
Fifteen, twenty young men aimlessly spar,
pass joints. I touch one's shoulder,
take his face in my hands, and peer
into his eyes as if the sky wrapped us
in one blanket we could share to keep warm.
At least I imagine this

as my gaze lifts above the storefronts
in currents beyond my senses where the huge
maples tremble. How frail they make us seem
I hear voices, fricatives falling like seeds
on concrete. I see a fist shoot out
toward the sky then lower its aim. Two men
roll on the ground. One gets up.

That's all I know. What I saw.
And the thick sky loosening, sunset glowing
in puddles at our feet, as if the ground
could roll over and open its eyes.

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