Best of the Net 2017  


You walk all night and into the next day
to survive the sudden October snow.

You have no money or hope of money.
Your backpack is a cloth sack with duct-

tape straps and safety pins in place
of zippers. Your gloves have no thumbs,

just holes, just unraveling half fingers.
You've come inside for the heat,

for plastic spoons, mayo, salt and sugar
packets, hand-napkins you'll ball later

for insulation beneath your clothes.
You've come for the bathroom—soap

to scrub your face, your neck, your pits,
toilet rolls for kindling flames as you camp

alone tonight in the woods or in a silo.
Mirror for popping your zits, hand-dryer

for drying your hair, your musty coat.
You've come to run warm water

over hands you can no longer feel,
come to sit and rest and do nothing,

and think nothing, and be no one.
You ask the boy at the counter

if you can have some water. He nods,
tapping his foot to a bluegrass tune,

slides a paper cup toward you
with a smooth memorized hand, asks

out of habit if that will be everything.

- Anders Carlson-Wee (from Blue Mesa Review)