What we are given by parents:
the thick books with blank pages.
What we are given by teachers:
the vacant classrooms.
What we are given by employers:
the boxes of out-of-date files.
What we are given by friends:
the parting handshakes.
What we are given by lovers:
the faded photographs.
What we are given by day:
the loud knock on the door.
What we are given by night:
the empty mirror on the wall.
What we are given when alone:
the freshly-dug grave.
Kindness alone cannot save
the world. What other tragedy—
large or small—is there?, I ask
myself as I help an elderly woman
move some boxes, a bit more
of a task, I must admit, than
I bargained for. You are so kind,
she says, by way of thanks. And
don’t tell me it’s nothing, she adds.
Nothing you do is nothing.
His forearms are the color
of red clay, but beefier.
Out on the water all my life,
he avows, while I think of
the cautionary tales of old hands,
of a bad ending someday,
keeping my misgivings to myself.
He’d been offered more than
a million for acreage fronting
the bay, yet wouldn’t budge.
Where would I go?, he laughs.
All the real crabbing is right here.
Drifting off, I envision those hordes
of hipsters, their pale limbs
resplendent with inked symbols
arcane as ancient codes, waiting
for a key to unlock their lives.
Here & now, the outboard motor
churns the surf into a frothy wake
as my companion leans into
the work, his bare arms, sun-baked
as bricks, bending to their tasks.
© Sid Gold
Sid Gold is the author of four books of poems, including Crooked Speech (Pond Road Press, ’18) and a two-time recipient of an MSAC Individual Artist Award for Poetry. In 2019 he was voted among Baltimore’s Best Poets in the Baltimore Magazine‘s Readers Poll. He has had poems recently in Gargoyle and Backbone Mountain Review.