Small and great, like money,
small actions like striking a match,
smiling, moving the candle.
We're hostage to a world of likeness
we also come to love. Like Pat
in the parlor once a week
writing numbers on dimpled foolscap
folded inside his hat
before he took our small-time bets.
He's here again on that postcard
you send with the latest check,
remodeled into the painter's countenance:
red beard, magmic hat,
cerulean tie rhymed with lapel edging.
(The motif doesn't matter,
what matters is the treatment.)
"Here's the tax money I owe till June."
Unshaven, filthy hatband of Mongolian silk'
today must be somebody's lucky day.
Money, small-time, the painter's work
a daily prayer improvised and of use.
When you and I bought raspberries,
a yellow chair, the hand-painted bowl
with its black thunderbird wings spread
and fading now, a world passed between us
that was gone when you left.
Thanks for the card. Next payment's due in the fall.
Excerpted from Skirts and Slacks by W.S. Di Piero. Copyright © 2001 by W.S. Di Piero. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.