Seeing, Not Seeing

A silent man stands in the lobby
of the post office
after hours, watching the wall
of numbered boxes.

I don’t ask him what he’s doing.

Maybe someone’s there
behind the hollow wall
where the workers walk
when they’re working.
Maybe he hears what I can’t.

I push my packages through the slot.

Maybe the figures
are moving for him,
a magic march of numerals.
Maybe he’s waiting
for me to leave
so he can stretch out
on the floor, inside
from the cold.

I wait for the machine receipt.

Maybe he’s afraid
of the other man
who’s huddled over
just outside the door
in the cold itself,
counting his fingers,
testing to ensure
he still feels them at all.

I sweep into my car.

Maybe neither man
is doing anything.
Maybe it isn’t my business.

Maybe neither one is there at all.

Carolyn Adams’ poetry and art have appeared in Steam Ticket, Aji Magazine, Topology, Change Seven Magazine, and Beatnik Cowboy, among others. She is the author of four chapbooks, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, as well as for Best of the Net. Read other articles by Carolyn.