Shore Counter

Friendless, with an intimation of islands,
The merchant set up shop on shore.

He had no jovial manner and made no eye
Contact with customers but gazed--

They might be birds or nations--at white
Forms out there in the offing.  People preferred

Buying from him to pretending to be hearty
And earthy--what you have to do with some shopkeepers.

He was the lower-middle class transfinite--
Handing you something to eat and taking the cash

With indifference like the unpainted eyes
Of the oldest classical sculptures of their own erosion,

The self (imagine this) no longer tainted,
The blue long gone because of weather.

Poem from The Printer's Error, reprinted with permission of Miami University Press