House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.

GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.

The Man Who Walks Backwards

This is a real person, I used to see walking on Monroe St. near St James Park--saw him every day on my way to work at Bellin.  I wrote this around Thanksgiving. Something I read made me think of him. This is what came out. Is it too long?  Might read at Readers Loft his month. --Alg

There is a man in our town who walks backwards everywhere he goes,
leaving and arriving all at once.
He knows only where he's been, not where he's going.
Heels leading, toes pushing, and following; second class appendages,
 born leaders not allowed to achieve their full potential.
Heels, the chosen ones, pace the path walking ahead    but really behind,
the poor toes, rear engine, the impetus, are always last.
His arms swing forward and of course backward,
elbows lead the way, knees flex inside out.
He walks briskly advancing and retreating at the same time,
Perhaps the wiring in his brain has reversed somehow.
Maybe he's found the fountain of youth to prevent time from moving on,
holding the current moment forever.
The rest of us walk forward always onto the next thing
unaware of where we've been. Maybe he's the mindful one
living in reverse, saving all the beauty for himself,
filling his pockets with green from the trees
and blue sky gathered from his rear view, keeping it all to himself.
He sees what we miss in our hurry forward.
Watching him backing up makes me catch the moment.
What have I missed that’s been?  What has he missed
stepping away from what’s to come,
his feet carrying him quickly into a future he does not want to reach.
He has not been out walking the sidewalks lately, perhaps he marched in between
what was and what will be --
another one, fallen through the cracks.

   

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