Crumbs of Grace
Black drops of rain lace night.
I have just come from Al-Anon
where I listened to wreckage
of people’s lives, their need to let go
of someone they love. Behind words,
behind silences, pain-pierced hearts
ached to end personal hurt. They spoke,
closed their eyes as if wondering
had they said too much, shown too much
grief? Week after week they try to release
themselves from subjugation, from being
snared into believing they can stop
alcoholism, drug addiction from being
diseases. How many of them have been
betrayed by an addict’s promises, by
mouthfuls of lies they wanted to believe?
Addicts have stole trust, sold it for a fix.
These thoughts droned through my head
as I sat at the table with fifteen other people
attempting to melt frozen spirits, ways
to tighten reins on their own identities.
Without many goodbyes, I left first
at exactly the end of the meeting.
Wet from the rain, I opened my car door,
slid inside, drove away thinking about
scraps we take when we’re hungry for hope.
It’s a new beginning for both of us.
The waitress brings water we sip
while we make up minds what we want
to eat, how we will talk to each other
on this first date. Beneath light from pinup
lamps along the wall, we study each other’s face,
compliment attire. You are much younger than I.
The waitress takes our order, Chicken Alfredo
for you, spaghetti for me, salads for both of us
with house dressing. Dimples accentuate your smile,
quick and bright. I see why you are
a popular stripper in the bar where I met you
Food arrives. You slip your fork into a mouthful
of noodles, but before you begin to eat,
announce that you are HIV. You pull a keychain
from your pocket, show me a very small metal
canister which holds the pill you take each day.
I want to ask how it feels to adjust
to a different way of living, but I don’t.
I wonder if you are thinking my interest
in you has faded. I want to tell you
the bar has simply been raised, that
we can face the challenge together.
We go on eating. You grin a lot.
So do I. In less than an hour you’ve
brought me very close to your truth.
After dinner you walk to my car, hug me
as if you had found something of value
and lost it in the same day. I hug you back,
convinced I won’t hear from you again,
and I don’t.
More and more snow graces the ground.
All objects yield to extravagant white.
The dogwood tree, shed, burning bushes
melt away under glittering mounds.
There is radiant sheen across the sky as if
twilight had been suspended at midpoint.
I can see through the field to Main Street.
If someone were walking in my direction,
he would be visible ahead of arrival.
I have lit only one small lamp, fitting yellow
light around me like a lonely man’s refuge.
I am a retired teacher living an unglamorous
life. Though I have been released from
school rules, I snare in my own
eccentricities. Though the risk is high
for betrayal, I plan to love again
at the unexpected moment. I snap
on a flood light over the garage, see driveway
deep in snow white as piano keys.
Back in the house I take a chair by the window,
wonder how many billions of flakes does it take
for a full snowfall? That’s how many years
I’ve waited for someone to take my commitment.
A gust of wind pushes a stampede of flakes past
the window, then another and another.
I ask myself what do I want? Let me have those back
who have died. Let me have someone walk toward me
with outstretched arms because they want my sorrow.
Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University, and for thirty years taught for the Columbus City Schools. He taught Drama and developed a Writers Seminar. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher.
He is the author of two chapbooks: Cafes of Childhood and Greatest Hits, as well as seven books: Why Dance, Necessary Windows, Cafes of Childhood, Mother Goosed, Occasional Heaven, A Human Saloon, Rustle Rustle Thump Thump. Critics called Cafes of Childhood a ‘beautifully harrowing account of child abuse, but not sentimental or self-pitying…’
More than two hundred of his poems have been published in magazines, including The SOCIETY OF CLASSICAL POETS Journal, Chiron, Clark Street Review, and Blue Unicorn.
He won First Place in the 1987 National Writer’s Union Poetry Competition, and The Baudelaire Award Competition (1989), Second Place in Zone 3’s first annual Rainmaker Awards (1989), and Second Place in the Writer’s Digest annual competition (1991).