One day the patterned carpet, the folding chairs,

the woman in the blue suit by the door examining her split ends,


all of it will go on without me. I’ll have disappeared,

as easily as a coin under lake water, and few to notice the difference


—a coin dropping into the darkening—

and West 4th Street, the sesame noodles that taste like too much peanut butter


lowered into the small white paper carton—all of it will go on and on—

and the I that caused me so much trouble? Nowhere


or grit thrown into the garden

or into the sticky bodies of several worms,


or just gone, stopped—like the Middle Ages,

like the coin Whitman carried in his pocket all the way to that basement


bar on Broadway that isn’t there anymore.

Oh to be in Whitman’s pocket, on a cold winter day,


to feel his large warm hand slide in and out, and in again.

To be taken hold of by Walt Whitman! To be exchanged!


To be spent for something somebody wanted and drank and found delicious.

Copyright © 2017 by Marie Howe. From Magdalene​ (W. W. Norton, 2017). Used with permission of the author.