Friday, May 3, 2019

Pickpocket, Naples by Angela Leighton

Pickpocket, Naples
Lost for a subject, and missing a turn
among flaking billboards, unemptied bins,
pickings for a light touch, legerdemain,
there’s an angel’s wing flexed at my back—
this artist’s quick impersonal tap,
his opportune grace to feel and lift
the obscure object, sweep and scarper,
to dance for a living, no one the wiser,
and I—unaware of my loss, or luck,
a skimming finger at my zipped backpack,
my almost biblically lightened load—
notice too late the exchange of gifts:
a stranger’s touch, a poem to start,
and the deal’s struck: art for art.
Or think another: I walk in a dream
past double-parked lots, boarded-up shops,
a drab street market hustling its cheap stuff,
and chase the ghost of a child that has run
out of time forever—memory’s vagrant,
aberrant self—and so miss the touch
of a loss left freely at my back,
an absent given, reimaginable fact—
and learn how verse comes sideways, adverse,
across the mind’s proprietorial hold,
stealing, shy and circumspect,
surprised in the act of finding itself,
a snitch, a cross, neither willed nor desired—
sweet fool, now reckon your soul may be required.

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