At the Intersection

The street light is out at the intersection
of Pine and Cherry, an ordinary malfunction
that I’m persuaded to think is a symbol
of things to come. The nearby pizza shop
has a neon sign that’s blinking OPEN,
as if it were unsure of itself. It’s another hint
that the physical world is full of messages,
this on-and-off one meant for me.
That’s the kind of mood I’m in.
Clearly, I must be giving off something;
passersby cross the street, seemingly afraid
of a man alone and half in the dark
carrying an umbrella, with no rain predicted —
one foot toward Cherry, another toward Pine.
I used to think I was born to be pleased,
but time, over time, has had much to say
about that. Nevertheless, for years the world
treated me as if the sun were behind me,
and I was both myself and my shadow,
complicated to a fault. The pizza shop man
is tossing dough in the air and catching it
just right. Now comes the tomato sauce
and pesto. He doesn’t seem to care
his shop is empty, and cannot know
who this strange man is, watching him,
or which one of us I wish to be.

Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn is the author of many volumes of poetry, the most recent of which is Whereas (Norton). His Different Hours was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His second book of essays Degrees of Fidelity: Essays on Poetry and the Latitudes of the Personal, will be published by Tiger Bark Press in September, 2018.
Stephen Dunn

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Author: Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn is the author of many volumes of poetry, the most recent of which is Whereas (Norton). His Different Hours was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His second book of essays Degrees of Fidelity: Essays on Poetry and the Latitudes of the Personal, will be published by Tiger Bark Press in September, 2018.