I have perfected the art of being a stranger.
I can shake your hand and see nothing but a painting by Rothko.
You can quake in your boots and I am stark still.
I have become effortless, flawless in my isolation,
and still I move among you as if I was family or friend.
It is hard to know when it first started.
No grand moment comes to mind; no horn sounded.
I did not see a ghost.
What I remember is some time in my teens
I woke up and felt something draining out of me,
and by the time I got to the breakfast table
someone other than me was eating.
My mother said it was hormones; my father
said I should get over it. I didn’t have a girlfriend
to tell me anything. But if I did, I think she would
return my ring.
Round about now, the end of day,
I forget about my problems and have some single-malt scotch.
I’m a Balvenie man or Macallan 18.
I’m going to an all-Beethoven concert tonight
because I think I feel something when someone plays the grand piano,
especially during the slower movements.
The people I am going with think I am a friend.