The Weather; Seen Them; We’ll Catch Them


It’s snowing tonight.
Maybe the same over there, where they keep the old man.
He’s out of it.
He don’t know from much anymore, roughly—a vegetable,
asleep most of the time.
Tomorrow Gaitan will visit. He’ll wear a nametag, his name
printed large.
When he’s at the bedside he’ll cradle the old man’s head, whose
mouth will hang open a bit, as they do.
As his head is lifted, he’ll open his eyes and see “Gaitan”
on his son’s nametag.
And he’ll light up, as the connection, the sparks, and pathways
flag each other, spin around for a moment or two, and finally
embrace a nameless contentment.
And the snow will probably continue all morning.

I have seen them come and go
seen them come
and stumble
shudder and then go on
seen them crawl—hurry to reach
investigate each new thing
eager bursting with excitement
seen them keel over never to rise
but sink and blend back in
I have seen enough to be moved from
grandiosity and heroics to welcoming
this light rain as I drag a trash can to the curb

Walking home from classes
It’s fall and already cold in Chicago
A fire—a family
trapped on a roof five flights up
The firemen begging on their bullhorns
“Throw down the kids! Give them a chance!
Throw us the kids!”
A huge round canvas net firemen holding
all around looking up
waiting, hoping, guts in a knot
“We’ll catch them
they’ll be ok
Save them!
Throw us the children!”
How does a mother throw her two little
ones into the night from up there
peering over, crying, yelling
She couldn’t take the chance
What would I have done?
On the sidewalk far below I knew
a crowd of us did—gasping, shouting
Throwing our conviction and all the persuasion
our hearts could muster
up to them
Up there choking—paralyzed minds
who can say
Outlined in the smoke and searchlights
Three—nowhere to run
Lives, whole lives coming and going
playing out their brief journey
just like that
It’s fall—already cold on Chicago’s north side
walking home from classes—step after step
on a brief journey of my own—just like that

Gary Galsworth has been featured in Abstract, Contemporary Expressions, Nebo: A literary Journal, Pennsylvania English, Temenos, Broad River Review, Obsidian, and others.