yes the business folk

yes, the business folk rush thru midtown.
they talk math that equates to foreclosures. 
yes, the trash has to be taken out
& dinner chewed. when i was a child, 
i saw a house on our block burn. the smoke
was a serpent coiling up getting thicker &
then it was gone. the firemen left the house a puddle,
but what about the smoke? it was easy, then, 
to forget what i couldn’t see. such is life:
the dishes keep piling up. why stop
just because there’s a warm breeze in January.
there are bills to pay and bills about to come due.
smoke thins into air, the serpent i saw as a kid 
never disappeared. it’s not even hiding. 
most folks don’t know the sound of smoke. 
though they hear it. though smoke gets mistaken 
for silence. most folks think they’re saying nothing 
when they’re saying the most.

Copyright © 2023 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.