Ruth Knafo Setton
Beyond him, across the street,
     the sky is not shattered.
He fills my eyes, my ears, tolling
his head back and forth, he howls like a trapped
eyes and mouth gaping, he sees me and screams,
points at me and screams.

The Salvation Army lady rings her bell, harder,
my chest tightens.
He brings a paper bag to his mouth,
throws back his head, drinks. Years pass.
He lowers the bag, blinks, moving his head
to the bell, tongue like a clapper,
forming words that aren't words, sounds of terror.
In front of McCrory's 5 & 10, even my dreams
leave me locked behind the gate.

I was fourteen, I knew nothing.
Dolls danced in department store windows,
twirled in circles over and over, while a monkey
banged his drums and a lion played a piano.

Those nights Charlie and I soared through Congo
and Amazon, we helped the poor, cured the sick.
I was Cigarette, dancing barefoot on sand
for the Foreign Legion.
Charlie watched me like Aznavour,
troubadour from Armenia, while I sang
La Boheme to his record,
stop and scratch and start again.

I sing it by heart, in French, and the world
is a door, the key between my teeth,
held like a rose, walls fallen, shiver
of waterfalls, birds clinging to my hair.
This is the key Charlie dropped, yesterday,
in front of Hickert's house. I fished it
from the crack in the sidewalk when he left.
Long brass, glittering against my palm.

It opens his heart, I know this.
I know he is not what he seems.
Eyes and hair colorless.
Short and frail, face so pale.
The paper bag he carries under his arm.
He is not what he seems.
I have proof.
The scrap of paper he dropped: Susan
434-3221. A man answered.
He is a spy, I shout, my breath
forming snowflakes that rust as they fall.


In Posse: Potentially, might be ...