The Chicago Window Washer Lets His Soap Paintings Stay
If the cable snaps today,
his ideas will not go with him.
This time, he lets the hasty marks dry,
the lines usually swallowed
by his wavering bucket of water
now directing the sun's traffic through.
With his rosary from Mexico in pocket
and Wacker Street below
gray and sterile as a slab before surgery,
he fastens his cable each dawn
and scales the building's silent face.
Invisibility is the gift
he gives the city,
his fingers without documents
to be fingers for real
dragging the blade’s bent rubber
until no trace stays behind.
On the free days at the museum,
attended always in his one clean tie,
his eyes check the death dates beside the frames,
the record of so many cords giving way.
When any body lands,
what survives the blow at the bottom?
He imagines the flight that follows,
the dashing of breath and size and debt
and the sky poised to catch the ideas and name.
It is the fear of loud voices
that keeps so much confined,
so today, he has drawn
where the yelling boss won’t see.
Before the office with the door shut all summer
and the mouse dangling where the modem sat,
cuts the sky in three:
one layer splotchy,
one streaked straight
and pure light
sandwiched in the middle.
On half of the corner office
that the recession voided,
three smashed Picasso men mark his sides.
The trumpeter slouches, the rim of his hat
tipped just enough to count the watching eyes.
The rhythm player weeps, his bass a chronic load.
The singer leans back, nothing to be but happy.
The intersection will always cheer.
The smile left after death
is the only one
not facing death down.
Published in Angels in Seven (Moon Tide Press, 2016)