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POETRY LIKE CROCKET AND POCKET FOR GINGER One day at the Y Manuel said “…Ginger died.” “When!” I asked. “Last Saturday . . I saw her just last week! Waved to her, swimming Near the deep end of the pool As I waited for the elevator One flight up. She waved back .. . Once, a few weeks before that, Thinking she had left already, I switched into her lane. We hit our heads in a dead-on collision. Another time She asked me When I was going to teach again. She would return to school When I taught another poetry class. I often had trouble Remembering her name. “I ought to find a rhyme,” I told myself Embarrassed After botching it again. Like crocket and pocket. YOUNG MAN It was too nice a Sunday morning not to walk to church I paused for a short rest on one of a series of metal benches bordering the new park at Commerce & Main Plaza. A young man with a two-day growth of beard walked by mumbling to himself. He laid down on the sidewalk & rolled about then going to another bench he kneeled on the sidewalk & in front of the bench arms raised to pray bowing down and up moaning & crying softly continually his legs under the bench toes touching the earth under & at the back of the bench. He seemed like a Muslim praying to Allah except he was facing west toward San Fernando Cathedral across Main Plaza Park on Main Street. I got up to continue my walk he crossed Commerce before me walking at a faster pace and stopped in front of a vacant store on Soledad proceeding to roll around again on the sidewalk near the curb crying softly moaning and crying as if in mourning. I saw no tears but his piteous moans touched me to the quick. I wanted to stop my slow walk to my own church to offer him the hospitality of my apartment a shower to wash his clothes for him although remarkably his short jeans and polo shirt did not look dirty. I went on my way remorsefully in silent prayer Leo Fichtelberg LEO FICHTELBERG was born and raised in the Bronx. He studied poetry at Black Mountain College with Charles Olsen. While he earned his living as a librarian, he continued to write. During his retirement in San Antonio, he spent more and more of his time writing. On October 6, 2003, he died suddenly of a heart attack. A man of great passion and intellect, he is greatly missed. Naomi Shihab Nye 9/24/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21