All his life he struggled at how to ask,
unable to talk to his father.
Instead of the right questions, he learns to mimic
the musings of women.
How else does one assume a nonsalaried office?
Every room and every portal framing an open window,
in a house full of answers,
become creeds, fragments of truth,
songs chiseled in tile. A mother's ambition
turns into the rented air he breathes.
So when the new tenants arrived
with their trailers of ostentatious furniture,
he barely had time to pack.
Far enough on the back roads where his neighbors
could not see his abrupt departure, he turns around to see,
first his home and then his orange trees.
God, whose penchant for punishment is legend,
would have been kinder to zap him into stone.
But here, the ill-starred and the ordinary have more
in common with the likes of him; hitched
on the muzzy edges: a footnote, a sigh.
From Hoodlum Birds. Penguin Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.