George Bishop was raised on the Jersey Shore before moving to Florida where he lives and writes. Recent work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, Evening Red Press and Prick of the Spindle. Forthcoming work will be featured in Grey Sparrow Journal. His chapbook, Love Scenes, is available from Finishing Line Press and new chapbook, Marriage Vows and Other Lies, has been released by Flutter Press.
Each day the old man,
crooked cane and good leg leading,
winds up and down the streets
of our small, broken town—
odd size lots, roads ending
then beginning again
And each day,
sitting here waiting for the same bus,
I wonder if the rest of his day falls
into this same pattern as he waves
to everyone without looking away
from his path.
He’s got the coffee from Fay’s
and stop lights timed, raincoat ready
and change for the paper. Rhythm
is his order of living, diamond-
cut, mirror made. His Sousa-steps
engage the ground like the hidden
gears of a fine watch
and as he disappears
around a corner I notice
the bus is late and the traffic’s
begun to thicken. Postponements
drop out of my eyes like light snow,
landscapes become more manageable
as the necessities of a sign start to fade—
and an old man in me fiddles with keys
in front of an overgrown, vacant lot.
I want to say something
in the dense August air
kept repeating, buy it, buy it,
as I held the palm-size Bible
up to the light of a dying estate
sale. But I also want this
to be believable, something
to measure the holiness of home,
if there is such a place.
It was given to Sadie Schofield
at St. Paul’s Sunday School
in 1877. Riverside, somewhere.
That’s what the inscription said
on the first blank page.
And judging by the four leaf clover
I found deep in Chronicles
she must’ve known something
about the consequences
of clicking her hidden heels
a certain way and closing
her eyes against a world
suddenly larger than her own.
At the very least, she’d discovered
even a golden path has to have cracks
to breathe, expand. Which is surely
why she gently trusted these tiny
leaves of legend to a book teeming
with households held together
by a patchwork of prophecy.
It’s no secret we’re only complete
when something’s missing,
it seems to say. There’s a place
for it, I thought, as my wallet
finished speaking in its familiar,
tuneless tone. And I imagined
the clover coming into Sadie’s
eyes all green and rootless,
half prayer, half answer.