A stray dog pants towards our car
as though we aren’t moving and don’t weigh 3500 pounds.
It sniffs us like a lost mother,
a mother gleaming and ostentatious
in the face of boarded windows and full gutters.
People crowd around stoops, chatting, waiting.
You slide out from nowhere,
a slouched something in the midst of nothingness.
Your blue cotton shirt falls open as you reach to shake my hand.
Formal, but appropriate. Your undershirt looks clean,
your hair spills across your forehead like a swollen ocean onto white sand.
Your smile is sparked with jewelry, silver loops scattered across your lips.
Inside I sip on a cool beer and dangle a cigarette from my mouth.
We pry apart an old circuit board.
“You’ve got good Frankenstein vision,”
you say as I form robots from defunct computer parts.
My fingers skip a beat.
“Want to stick your hands in clay?” you ask.
We find ourselves up to our elbows in thick slip.
My hand touches yours in the depths of the full bucket.
I help you slide out of your moist clay glove,
and there’s this moment of wet recognition.
A subtle laugh and we’re rinsing our fists in the bathtub.
Barely speaking, but shuffling side by side,
we buy cigarettes from the corner store and talk about our mothers.
A pregnant dog and its owner stride down the middle of the road,
A woman begs for change outside the store.
My shoelace comes loose.
You get down on one knee and gesture for my foot,
smiling as you tie me back together.