Outer Sunset

The neighborhood where I live now
is quiet, like a country losing its children.
The buildings suck up light, and whatever is left
sticks to the dirt on stucco walls
faded blue, pink, and yellow-white.
Muni wires cross overhead
leading the buses like oxen
heavy and dumb. In the silence after they pass,
hush of the ocean, five blocks away.

Some days, with the sun loose
and breeze skirting up from the beach,
there is a slow unfolding in the sunlit white of a wall,
a trail of jasmine, drifting diesel fumes.
In this lull, the rusted-out cars
among weeds in little side yards
turn soft-eyed horses left out to graze.

And the gray-haired man in tie-dye working on his car,­
tiny Chinese woman curved to sweep the sidewalk,
tough-faced boy, knit cap pulled low to his eyes—
how is it they have lasted
alone among the buildings
unable to hide their sweetness?


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