Deep in Recession

In Copley Marketplace the shops
wink with conspiracies. Handbags
and fountain pens, vibrating chairs
and slinky dresses rehearse
prosperity lurking a year
or two ahead. At the trickling
faux-stone waterfall I spot you
rummaging through your little purse,
counting your pennies. Your back
looks more familiar than your face,
but I brave you with a hello
to which in your astonishment
you almost respond. Shoppers veer
around us, their bags embossed
with famous names, their purchases
as minimal as their pride allows.
You lost your job at the bank
and now part-time you guide tours
of Boston’s landmarks: Faneuil Hall,
Old North Church, Copp’s Hill, Granary,
and King’s Chapel burial grounds.
The dead of the city support you,
barely. I could buy you a drink
in a fake English pub three stories
above Dartmouth Street; but you
with your finishing school outlook
don’t drink. Already I’ve lost
interest and would rather catch a train
to Cambridge. Already your sour
expression has curdled organs
I need to survive another day.
The waterfall looks as futile
as the thousand-dollar handbags
in the Louis Vuitton display.
We were so uneconomic
together. You’d think the world
would have recovered by now.
You cower on the granite bench
like a punished dog, so I leave you
kneading your ego and grieving;
and in the glare of unsaleable
if loveable goods I wave goodbye,
my footsteps creaking like metal.

William Doreski