Arriving early for a meeting

in a dim church basement,

I nearly stumble

on a dazed elderly lady

fallen prone on concrete,

beset by an attendant

fearful of lawsuits, who asks

who she is so repeatedly

he sounds like a machine,

heightening the scene’s

surreality, till she quavers

a name vaguely familiar

to my groping brain,

as sunlight fingers

through a dusty window

like a feeble god ray—

she’s my mother’s old

elementary school friend

—whose arm I take,

to walk her slowly home

through NYC streets

so loud with hurry

their fury blurs my vision,

as we descend

through the eye of its vortex

into the vast unspoken realm

of memory predating me.


Laura Foley won first place in the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. She is the author of five poetry collections, including Night Ringing, Joy Street, and The Glass Tree.

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