Little Do They Know

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.

Photo by Amir Doreh on Unsplash.

Richard Rubin

Richard Rubin is a retired librarian and library educator who has been writing poetry for personal satisfaction for many years. Although widely published in his profession, he has only recently tried to publish his poetry, and he has been fortunate to have some work published in Willows Wept Review and Kakalak. He is a life-long resident of Northeast Ohio.