And then it was no longer possible to be emphatic,
everything was gray—
snow swirled around us like an old fashion.
We wouldn’t push through it anymore
like a girl with her feet launching her crosswise
through a pool opaque with algae.
Some fissure, shiver, some lack, a new difference
differing in a gray way
I won’t stand in awe of for it was only
a purchased thing—it was only assembled together
like a mall creates a coherent confusion, pushing its insufficient confidence
through itself,
its insufficiency asking you to be methodical
in your exploration of it.
That’s what your coat was like under the lights.
You were robot-like and as you spoke
a tiny man inside me who was real
rose from his chair and sat back down, got up and sat again,
older than me, advocating for traditional joy,
the productive kind—how clovers,
wet sharp-smelling clovers, actually make you want to
make something—
But here I’m distant even from the word for those plants
which aren’t clovers—their fan shapes
made Grandpa’s backyard move believably backward toward
a decade I hadn’t lived through but this patch
            was similar only there was no
I guess we’re supposed to
look at all things with an intense un-disruptive wonder,
to restore Grandpa to those clovers,
to raise each to a symbolic level,
but probably there is something we wait to say until we’re totally gray
and then it’s not material, we’ve lost
urgency—we just want bagels—
I’ll try again next year to touch my looks as at a mall one touches
shorts made for an older lady
and pretty soon the numbness at my perimeter
is a thing I touch and inspect methodically,
unproductively, as though I were part snow
at the outsides and
clover, planted, somewhere in the middle—
but probably we’re also malls, unfeeling, rootless, rotating
through an indifferent shitstorm—
This area is useful because it helps me locate
what’s most answerless,
unwatered, sound-absorbent, the meanest little
wish—that which doesn’t seem like
anything more than a chunk of floe
when said by a person who doesn’t love me,
all those strangers like snow, as if they’re always generally
the same, they’re disappearing.