Poem

by Mara Jebsen

First day of May, and the roses on my block
all boiled into bloom, as if following a summons–
water-logged and lewd they nodded as I passed
and I wanted to touch them, but didn't have time–
Then I watched a rat pull an entire poppy-seed bagel
along subway tracks. He kept falling. I'd never seen
a rat so happy. Give us this day
our daily bread, I thought. But then came the next part:
something about forgiveness and daily
trespasses. When I was a kid, I found it silly. Only once
I'd trespassed on the way to school-drawn onto private
property– by roses, in fact–it was a rich person's garden
In Philadelphia. My mother had warned me
not to take the back-paths, but that's where I'd found
a secret city–whole shadow-alleys crammed with azaeleas
crocuses, roses, one actual
No Trespassing sign. It did not strike me
as bad to be there. It seemed a strange thing for God
to fuss about. Once, in a period after my college years,
I could not find a job and it made me weep. When I came home
I thought to myself: I am lost. I'm lost. In a big fat
onion. No one can find me
here. It is a wonderful thing to be in
the right place; to trust the arrival of daily
bread, tossed by some invisible
hand. After work, I saw a man
with his pants around his thighs
rest his bare bottom
on the warm concrete. His flesh was loose
and wasting; his head lolled forward like a rose.
I could not see his face. He was dreaming on the steps
of the the public library. I have been lately feeling
very grateful, as if all were falling
into place. May is the month of the possible,
of roses and bread.
Forgive me my daily trespasses.

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