Little Elegy

Oh how he loved his cup
and now he’s dirt
under the pine trees

—Li Po

A moment of silence at Soup Kitchen
for our saint of the quick grip, faking
a side stitch to hide the bottle under his coat,

for his taped shoes and worm-eaten watch cap,
that clarifying fish pier scent, raw-grained
and terrifying smell of the skids,

how little it takes to wake up over a grate,
half-dissolved in shadow and mist—
half-dissolved, but still blissed out, bantering

with buddies, flailing on icy streets,
then catching hold of a lamppost and nodding
to it, to the sky, the glittery walk,

to a passing taillight, an old belief,
foolish or fearless, that everything’s sacred,
and now he’s gone.

:: Betsy Sholl, Late Psalm (Wisconsin, 2004)

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