His face hung in wrinkled folds
even when we were seventeen,
and crows’ feet danced at his eye
when he squinted to smile.
In the park at night, over pilfered whiskey,
he said he could see where things wind up,
how young men turn old,
and memories smoke up with wishes.
One day you’re young, he said,
the next you talk in raspy whispers,
your body turns into a map
back to the beginning.
In a car in a ditch, he became as old
the oldest man in the world:
Son of somebody, brother of whomever,
no wife, no offspring, no chance to vote.
Not even remembered, really, but by people like me,
who hear him all along here—yelps and howls.
Steps—leather on concrete in the rain—
stumble up alleys, play along the curb.