Rita Dove


Heading North, straw hat
cocked on the back of his head.

tight curls gleaming
with brilliantine, he didn’t stop

until the nights of chaw
and river-bright

had retreated, somehow
into another’s life. He landed

in Akron, Ohio

on the dingy beach
of a man-made lake.

Since what he’d been through
he was always jiving, gold hoop

from the right ear jiggling
and a glass stud, bright blue

in his left. The young ladies
saying He sure plays

that tater bug
like the devil!

sighing their sighs
and dimpling.