Today's poem is by Mary Biddinger

Ordinary Citizens

When you are taught never to taste
the merchandise, it's a pleasure trip being sent

into the night, even with parallel bags
of trash, or a full wastewater barrel, some bats

exerting their freedom in what passes
for a tree. If all you have is a fire escape, climb.

Unless you are me, which means afraid.
Is it better to pace a hot floral living room, safe,

or to throw both shoes off a roof?
I was so good at what they called the tidying up.

A favorite apron. Maybe I ironed it.
In my dreams I wasn't dreaming, made change

for ordinary citizens. The math didn't
terrify so much as the way customers touched

as if at a funeral, or a taxi stand in snow.
At midnight I walked my uniform past windows

displaying luminous green scarves.
You could pack one into an empty Mason jar

and light an entire block. How many
nights of bleach would it take to make enough?

They always say to work your way up,
but I wanted to drop each master key into a lake.

My friends arrived late to the party.
They were so ordinary all my wild stories died

before I could tell them. One even
brought an awkward twelve-pack of Old Style

like people would be guzzling instead
of dropping lit matches on broomstick skirts.

Somebody carried a retriever up
to the roof. Two women grappled a little, then

collapsed onto a deflated raft. Not
that I would know, of course, from below,

keeping potpourri company.
Circulating the contents of a leaky red cooler.

My freedom was somewhat like
a joke the hostess recounted involving a hen

and a runaway donkey. Maybe I was
the empty corncrib, sole wagon wheel left behind

when the hen figured how easy
it was to launch herself onto a stranger's back.

Copyright © 2015 Mary Biddinger All rights reserved
from jubilat
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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