Today a white cat, clean as new paper, cut across my path;
in the post office, a man wore tattoos as easy as clothing:

wings on his nape, the better to fly,
green clover under his ear, for good fortune,

a quaver on his neck, to keep him singing,
and the name Gretchen, to remind him to love.

His buzz-cut and checkerboard runners were pedestrian,
but his skin glowed in that queue of farmers and housewives;
he was his own canvas, a heart’s sleeve of obsessions.

I wanted to unbutton his shirt to see what was inked
on the throat of his wrist, his chest, his back;
to read the whole of his story.