when I walk to the curb
to collect the newspaper
I do so with the added goal
of not being seen –
not by cars or joggers
dog walkers or school buses.
At this early hour I abhor
human eye contact –
the half-hearted “good morning”
to strangers on the street,
the hydrocarbon buzz of humanity.
Is it too much to ask
that I might have this moment
to imagine myself someplace else?
That I might in my mind stand alone
along the mighty Yukon river
splashing glacial meltwater on my face,
feeling the cool damp breeze off the tundra,
looking out on a rose-colored alpine sunrise?
A few seconds is all I ask –
a few seconds of backcountry alone time
before you turn the corner
in your goddamned minivan
and spoil everything.
I saw Madame Pesha today.
She traced a finger along a line
on my right palm and said,
"Hmm, it seems there's
a pug-nosed dog in your future."
I said, "Madame Pesha whatever
are you talking about?"
Just then there was a muffled woof
from the back room of her tiny
ramshackle of a house down near
where the levee road goes unpaved.
When my reading was through
I dropped $20 on the card table
and let myself out. Haj,
my new pug-nosed companion,
walked briskly at my side.
We stopped at the gate and watched
Madame Pesha affix a "For Rent" sign
in the front window, then disappear
behind thin lace curtains.
Moments later the glowing red neon palm
above the door at the top of the stairs
flickered and went dead.
© Jack McGeehin