Adam Fieled

Ode on Waves

Raw December chill: I stood, smoking, outside
   Starbucks, staring through the pane façade
at a brunette teenager, fine-featured, who looked like
    me, bent over a history book; moody, pawed
at by circumstances past her control. I thought of
     State College, my sublets, also a buried past,
attempts at being a consummate artist, & at love.
      The tapestry around my brain being woven
showed a vignette, disappearing into exiled years,
      someone of my kith & kin, damned not to last—

acclaimed as useless. When I’d walk Conshy streets,
    I was always, without knowing it, looking for her.
If it was Manayunk, I’d put on the old shirts, sleeves
    still unstained by years of heavy use, eyes stirred
by possibility. Or Center City, shady ghost-like incisions
    of the old Aughts scenester crew, now vacant,
derelict, all guesses at identity lost, open to revision—
     in another paned façade, summer’s day, reflections
of poison in the air, the iced coffee (even), the toilets,
    waves against all we’d held together here breaking—

&, as one who ages must know, why waves have to break.
    Natural human progression: everything covered up.
Natural human predilection: to bolster everything fake;
    & yet if you can fight the masses, the rackets, with guts,
you are inscribing the light of heaven into willing granite,
     from the haunted, furrowed brows of the doomed
who deserved better, to the idle buzzers whose vanity
     filled the galleries, clubs, coffee shops, with human
energy, a sense of hipness, rightness, in earlier times,
     so that your life still holds the unity of one heart, one room.

There’s what you can make right, what you can’t, lots of
     grey area around, sort of, maybe, “I’ll find out later,”
attempts at what you think, inebriated, enflamed, is love,
     what gets produced beyond your control, faked or fated.
So I stood there, saw her through that pane, Whitemarsh
     Shopping Center moving heedlessly, cheaply, around us,
& she was more real than a Grecian Urn, or Shelley’s skylark,
     I could’ve run away, she might’ve, torn the frozen panic
of what it meant, but didn’t: & this, later, is what I can give her, lines,
     whatever else doesn’t matter, this is the wave for the two of us.

Adam Fieled is a poet based in Philadelphia. His latest book, Trish: A Romance, was released by Funtime Press in 2019.
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