Early portrait

I walk beneath familiar branches
leaves shadow my hungry glances
back and neck an alloyed hook
eyes affixed to the soft covered book

I land sometimes in the shouldered cafe
and speak to strangers or listen at bay
sometimes found by the sink overflow
with sleeves rolled up beyond the elbow

an imagination cloaked in vests
invitations in mouthfuls wet
a tool in hand, be it carpenter’s hammer
lumberjack’s axe or lawmaker’s gavel

to lift and low the weighted handle
all that separates the questions
from answer

and a life engenders
like a lone wax candle
burning at tip—while the tallow gathers

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