Folk Singer by Carl Boon

Folk Singer

Past prostitutes lingering
and toddlers wandering in shadow,
I recognize the chords
of “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Then I see her face: a woman
who doesn’t belong here
playing a song these folks’ve
never heard. Though behind
the usual cliché—the guitar case
collecting coins—she’s not.

She’s as beautiful as Joan Baez,
though her hands are cracked
and her lips splintered pink.
Her long skirt brushes
the cement of the Newgate station
and her whispers are calls to look.

She’s the girl I made love to
when I was young, the woman
who went from me
when I refused to dance.
She’s the singer whose words
carry us from place to place
in this long and ardent city.

Atop the subway steps
I peer back at her
as she folds her song sheet
and smiles crookedly to no one.

by Carl Boon

Editor’s Note: At first, this poem is a simple snapshot of a moment: station, singer, speaker. The last three lines are the surprise, for they establish the character of the woman as independent from the narrator’s nostalgic recollection. The reader is left wondering: what is she thinking?


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