Tulsa on a Summer Morning

Free at last from working nights—
from waking at noon, getting out in the heat
to run errands. Years since I’ve been up
early enough for breakfast at Utica Square.
Such busy streets, cars already vying
for shady parking spaces,
tables at the sidewalk cafes already taken.

I walk between Starbucks customers
savoring the rich aroma of coffee,
marveling at the composure of an English spaniel
lying at the feet of a thin, elderly woman
in a yellow dress, a wide-brimmed straw hat,
and sunglasses. My cocker couldn’t be that still.

A young man in shorts and a blue t-shirt
hurries by looking worried.
But everybody looks worried,
even a woman sitting alone with a book.
Did people appear this harried twelve years ago?
Did I look that way myself?

No free tables outside Queenies.
On a whim I cross the street to a breezeway
where my favorite bookstore used to be.
Nothing but empty windows there now.

The Cherokee, before they left on the Trail of Tears,
wept as they touched trees and rocks
and told them goodbye.
But sometimes we don’t realize we need
to say goodbye until a certain place is gone
or changed forever.

Fortunately Queenies is the same,
and a customer is finally leaving.
As I hurry back, a strong wind rises,
rustles leaves into a roar,
and the chimes in the large clock at the north
end of the mall play an unfamiliar tune.

Carol Lavelle Snow