Behind a cluttered counter, I stand, defensively,
my hair not totally in place.
Patches of face, smooth and seamed,
cloth, color, fly by. I try to grasp.
Earnest eyes ask for bits of print on white paper,
things I never had and cannot find.
Children file past, behind shelves; run and jump,
shaking my exposed and teetering nerves.
I see familiar specks in eyes.
I cry because I cannot give the love I need.
Sometimes I want to pull up two chairs,
grab collars, say, "Look here, I need, you need..."
But they're already gone, and I am not sure they were real.
Godfrey Green is a former librarian, currently teaching and being a friend to children in New York and Ghana, Africa. He also teaches English to ESL adults. He has published two books of poetry, Toward Freedom and Singing on Subways.