tara birch | in the yellow afternoon

In the yellow afternoon

In the yellow afternoon the cars roll by
unaffected, self-enclosed
automatons, showing off their paint jobs

allowing the glare that shines into my eyes
to hide the rust.

They slide along the road –so quick! so quick!–
they miss the branches and the leaves waving hello, and
goodbye.  No conversations are not allowed,

except among their own kind.  Honking horns,
and signal lights comprise their runes.

In the yellow afternoon, nothing changes.
The shade trees mourn the weakness of their shadows
and the robins still guard their home from intruders.

It’s too hot for the cats, and the dogs on leashes,
drop their heads and pant the heavy air.

In the yellow afternoon, the women jogging toddle home
in sweat-stained bicycle shorts and sports bras
meekly acknowledging the occasional hairy chest they pass

while waiting for their endorphins to break the brain barrier
and carry them off in a flood

of over-ripened ecstasy.  In the yellow afternoon
my son rests, asleep in his room, after work, while I
prepare for another blue/black night

–no food, perhaps a drink to dull the restless mind, the
creaking hip, the passage of time.

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