The Leaf Blower

Gusts crept from under the peeling, lower edges of Earth’s wallpaper,
Crawling out as potpourri of debris,
Clawing sharp into the breeze clothing my naked, rubbed-open eyes.

The man blowing the leaves off the sidewalks and gutters into the street
Lifted the trunk of his rumbling creature, holding the stern of his hat, a bow of a smile,
Unwilling to contribute to my eye-watering misery.

As soon as I passed the eye of the mess, the beast trumpeted full force,
Louder than the wind, scaring the rats up the trees
Leaping off the roadside canopies into their garbage abode.

I had grown accustomed to the homeless man sleeping-bagged on a bus stop bench.
His cracked soles— yellowed-charcoal flesh, flaking off white, reminiscent of Pollock’s Blue Poles—
Waved at me as they sought the warmth 7:30am had reneged from them.

The arrhythmic, two-legged, equestrian gait of bustling people multiplied,
Murmuring, under winded breath,
“Lazy son of a bitch” at his motionless body:
Cradled by the sun; slumbering not to cosset rest
But escape into a realm of dreams where he was king.

A slow reveal of his face from beneath found objects—
Camouflaged to blend into an urban landscape;
Deliverance from their flagellating stares—
Prompted a stern look that went unseen.

But on that windy morning, the bench on which he lay his body was empty clean,
As if no such person had ever called it a bed, a home.
I interrupted the current, looking at the pristine, thermoplastic mesh as jilted lover his withering bouquet:
A man who had as much in common with me as much as I thought I didn’t with he.

The hands that fanned the leaves,
Rattled the rats still on the wispy branches,
Swaying them with the carelessness of fingers flicking through wheat stems,
Washed themselves of anything humanity discarded.

All that remained of him were the brown-red stains of sweat, grime, shit and blood
On the ragged, grey hooded tracksuit strewn about,
Driven over, dragged and kicked out of the way from streets to sidewalks.

A shimmering substance daggered its jagged edges in my tear duct,
When I closed my eyes to shield them from the maelstrom,
One out of any gardener’s polite restraint,
I saw his eyes.
They were troubled green.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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