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Poem-a-Day

Street Performer: Asheville, North Carolina

STREET PERFORMER: ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

She stands completely still and completely
silver: in her silver hands she holds silver
drumsticks: the space between their tips
and the silver skin of her drum betrays her
heartbeat, otherwise I might believe that
she was a statue. On a silver box draped
in silver cloth, her feet are bare and silver.
Silver her ears, silver her lips, silver her
hair. Her dress is silver, the pleats
like long knives: if, careless, I were
to brush my arm against one I am sure
I would bleed. I throw three quarters
into her silver pail and her silver eyelids
tremble open heavily like the wings
of a housefly who's flown into paint.
By now I've slipped back into the crowd,
but her eyes accuse me of being the one
who woke her. They're the brown of rivers
after spring rains, the sole silverless thing
about her. I feel the way I felt when I
was a child and my persistent curiosity
overthrew every bastion of mystery.
She plays taps, a staccato battle-rattle,
but the weight of all that silver exhausts her,
and her head nods, her eyelids close,
and a boy asks his father for a quarter.
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