Issue 8 – Venable


Peter C. Venable

I Wonder

Below Wesley’s spire they descend basement stairs
into the pantry waiting room, taking numbers,
and sit. I wonder

those thirty or so, their lives—
carried by worn feet, ragged bicycles, hybrid buses,
cars with blistering paint and child seats—

she, eyes black as coffee, shows a water bill
$90 past due (in red), bags her rations, rests
on dogpaw elbows and smiles at a new toothbrush

he, face worn as barn floor planks
owes $400, no power two months counting
and picks cereal, dry goods, nods

until the last one, Yankee accent,
tells his migration from Connecticut
to some three-gas-station town in SC

to here, strokes a black beard—gazes beyond me,
over pantry shelves into a heavenly place his eyes know,
leaves, plastic bags sagging

in each hand. I wonder
about these raw people, a splinter out of reach,
how good news speaks in noodle soup, sliced wheat bread, and applesauce.