I have become obsessed with underpinnings:
Olga no longer makes the Daisy in my size.
They assume small women
want padding–”contour” they call it.
But contours are hot, and they itch,
and besides, I told the clerk,
I am happy with my size.
And she, who guessed my numbers by looking–
she who for forty years had seen all sizes,
had fitted corsets and prostheses,
measured without a blink over sags and scars–
said Well, you ought to be, and searched
the bins along the wall to see if there might be
one more, and there wasn’t.
She found a substitution, adequate,
but not what I’d hoped for.
She wrapped it in tissue and I paid.
What happens to prayers–
our own devices, nothing left to fit?
and God the old woman
with her measure, her calm and kindly face.
It’s a shame, my dear,
but that’s how it goes.
Here’s something else that might suffice.
I carried my little package to the café
where I go to watch the traffic pass.
A new brick sidewalk there, wide:
tables and chairs outdoors, better than before.
They dug deep, below the level of the street.
They found old coins and a diamond ring,
but best of all, windows covered over with rubble.
All those years with nothing to see but dirt.
Amazing, what holds things up, or doesn’t,
the dark and hidden structure undergirding it all.