A Bird or a Shadow?

Life is a passing shadow, says the Scripture. Is it the shadow of a tower, of a tree? A shadow that prevails for a while? No, it is the shadow of a bird in flight. Away speeds the bird, and there is neither bird nor shadow.

In the almost-dawn we park in front of our hospital./Not much is happening./Men go in and out of the cock-fighting place across the street./The dealer stands on the corner./Two teenagers make out for hours on the stoop down the block./Same scene every night this summer.

After the Trade Center got hit, I started thinking about what really lasts. In a thousand years, will people even know about it? Maybe we'll be like the fall of Rome, but it’s just as likely we'll be like the fall of the Mayans. Vanished into a tangle of jungle and myth. This poem is about 1995, one summer in one city. To one medic. Will anyone care what one medic saw? Other people were watching the trial of O.J. Simpson obsessively, being slaughtered in Bosnia, fleeing a volcano in Montserrat. But I can only be in one place in one time.

Enter Yolanda. Long-time Aide in the ER./Each night, on her break/she walks across the street/and down the steps of one of the tenements, into the basement./Half an hour later she comes up a different set of steps/a few buildings away. I have no idea what she's doing./She's a middle-aged Hispanic woman/who seems like she might be religious.

Sometimes I feel like we're all just little bits of God. Like eyes. Blinking into this earth and blinking back out, making our tiny corner of the world visible to some Being we can't begin to imagine. 

"Yolanda has all the connections anyway," Joe says/"Her ability to go in and out of doorways/is just one more manifestation/of her ability to connect with the universe.”