All day I think about what to do with the day.
I walk down the street for a coffee and to think
About what to do after that. On the table
Someone before me has left a little
Saucer of salt, with a wooden spoon
Like a tiny oar in white sand. In time I walk
Back to my apartment. When I turn the key
In the front gate, at the bottom of the steep staircase
Leading up to our door, my left eyelid twitches twice.
Inside I know there are things I want to do
With Monday: They levitate in the field of view
My mind makes, opening, like fireflies,
Or those old yellow lanterns along the perimeter of a yard.
My mother calls from New York: Tomorrow is
The last day of Ramadan and I should be sure
To call her, to say Eid Mubarak,
Which I will forget to do for at least two days.
I hang up and scroll through my camera roll:
One distant lover, then a second, then a third, then
A shadow passes over the window. San Francisco gray
On the backside of the building, where my windows face,
Though on the front side, moments earlier, the sun touched everything
Enough to heat it a little, to burn it a little.
An oar. My roommate’s dog licks my ankle and I
Dress for the gym, though I have no interest in staring at a wall
For 45 minutes while running suspended in the air
Beside all the gays I never could connect with
Despite my love of sex. I leave my apartment and go to the mall.
I buy two dress shirts and a pair of slacks, then leave,
Then go back in to buy a pair of gym shorts. In the bathroom
I know men who have shame, or like a rush, or both
Hawk the stalls looking for trade
Or stand at a urinal waiting
For something to happen, for someone to come
Take them away from themselves. I ride the escalator
Up and down. Am I really 35? What time is it?
Charif Shanahan, “Present Moment” from Trace Evidence. Copyright © 2023 by Charif Shanahan. Used with the permission of Tin House.