“Old-Man Shuffle”

(September 30, 2019)

he reads shop windows

the thousandth time this year

looking for dead friends*

*(The following is only lightly fictionalized: The tall, not quite erect but well-dressed – in fact over-dressed for a muggy near-October morning in downtown Sanford, Florida – man never looks past the shop windows, the newspaper office, the “modern” hardware store, the gallery on first street and world renown Florida and Deep South folk art exhibits which draws close and sometimes repeated scrutiny; his newspaper remains folded at his outside arm’s balance point as he shuffles. By the sound I expected well-padded house slippers and I am right. I think: he will save the paper for his breakfast at one of the two such eateries by The Square; but no, he goes to a park bench – one of the few remaining (the others were ripped out as they impeded pedestrian traffic’s constant flow…more eyes past shop windows) – and then he reads his paper. All the while he was passing me I held my breath in abatement: perhaps he will swivel from this storefront passage and notice me and maybe nod hello to which I may then reply. But, no. I hold no reflective gleam and pose no comfortable news same as yesterday and yesteryear. I wonder: Is that me? Soon? No. I sigh in relief. He’s much taller.)

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