The morning after the morning of November eighth, for the first time I doubt even the sun as I drive east down Main Street—radio off— to Amy’s diner. She bobby-pins her hair, smiles her usual good mornin’ but her eyes askew say something like: You believe this? as she pours my coffee without a blink. Three cups—black— and a muffin in me. | So I head up Prospect to see Tom at my bank, cash a measly check from some grand magazine for some grand poem of mine loaded with some grand words like transcend, as if my inked verbs could bend a river’s will, shuffle stars, change the fate of our nation, or the color of Tom’s eyes thinking what I think of our reflection on the bullet proof window, asking: So now what, Mr. Poet? I can’t answer us. I can only remember today I’m supposed to buy a rake, light bulbs, nails to hang my dying mother’s photos. | So I stop at Poe’s Hardware, see Mikey who knows me and what I need. He rings me up, doesn’t say Goodbye, says Good luck, as if his eyes can see the uncertain grey in my own, worried about my immigrant cousin, polar bears, factory jobs, women, missiles, race. And all the rest, resting on the afternoon, after the afternoon of November eighth. I have bills due by the fifteenth. | So I go to the post office, those American Flag stamps are all Debbie has left. I refuse to buy them— a Never mind in my eyes that she dismisses with a Suit yourself. My bills can wait, but not my dog’s treats or the milk I ran out of. | So I cross back over to the Food Basket on Main. Also: onions, mustard, oranges, steak tips at the checkout. Paper or plastic, Jan asks, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: she’s been to my bar-b-ques, I’ve donated to her son’s football league, we’ve shoveled each other’s driveways, we send each other Christmas cards. She knows I’m Latino and gay. Yet suddenly I don’t know who she is as I read the button on her polyester vest: Trump: Make America Great Again, meaning she doesn’t really know me either. We manage smiles when she hands me my change, but our locked eyes say: nothing. | So I drive home to my hillside. By dinnertime I’m still not hungry. I’m numb, as hopeless as I am drowsy. | So here I am: slumped in my sofa gathering the last seconds of the sun, here the first snowfall begins, and here the light lingers, possesses each flake, set aflicker— like a hundred crystalline eyes urging me to trust I’ll survive every season. | So here, all’s wrong with the world tonight, but here: I have marches to march, poems left to write, and my eyes to keep saying, No, until all passes as it must pass, on some other morning after the morning of some other November eighth.
To hear Richard Blanco read “November Eyes on Main Street,” please click here:
To hear an extended interview with Richard Blanco on To the Best of Our Knowledge, click here: