by Eugene Ruggles

There is a sound the back will utter
from being too long with the ground,
it echoes the miracle of a doorknob
turning to them, the brick people
lining the sidewalks of this city.
Perhaps they are the foundation
we walk upon. They pull the cold shade
from the main library over them at night,
fog delivers them to us in the morning.
They do not completely sleep at night,
the eyes do not quite close as if
the eyelids had been cut back,
staring into the trees at their feet
for a cop's flashlight, a knife, the rain
to grow taller, hands and a mission to open.
Their bodies open translating God for us
who are deaf, leading us who do not see,
speaking through us who are dumb to the world.
What is it that breaks down the blood
in the heart until the heart breaks down
leaving them there on the only streets
we have. . . steam rises from my full plate,
my feet are warm and dry inside every morning,
steam rises from our magnificent civic center
around their cardboard. It is the morning of burying
these rags of ours. We have roads of bread. Come home.

SF 1990, 2000