In Chicago, it is snowing softly
and a man has just done his wash for the week.
He steps into the twilight of early evening,
carrying a wrinkled shopping bag
full of neatly folded clothes,
and, for a moment, enjoys
the feel of warm laundry and crinkled paper,
flannellike against his gloveless hands.
There's a Rembrandt glow on his face,
a triangle of orange in the hollow of his cheek
as a last flash of sunset
blazes the storefronts and lit windows of the street.
He is Asian, Thai or Vietnamese,
and very skinny, dressed as one of the poor
in rumpled suit pants and a plaid mackinaw,
dingy and too large.
He negotiates the slick of ice
on the sidewalk by his car,
opens the Fairlane's back door,
leans to place the laundry in,
and turns, for an instant,
toward the flurry of footsteps
and cries of pedestrians
as a boy--that's all he was--
backs from the corner package store
shooting a pistol, firing it,
once, at the dumbfounded man
who falls forward,
grabbing at his chest.
A few sounds escape from his mouth,
a babbling no one understands
as people surround him
bewildered at his speech.
The noises he makes are nothing to them.
The boy has gone, lost
in the light array of foot traffic
dappling the snow with fresh prints.
Tonight, I read about Descartes'
grand courage to doubt everything
except his own miraculous existence
and I feel so distinct
from the wounded man lying on the concrete
I am ashamed
Let the night sky cover him as he dies.
Let the weaver girl cross the bridge of heaven
and take up his cold hands.
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Comments about this poem (The Legend by Garrett Hongo )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931)
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919)
- As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
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- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- A Psalm of Life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Night Thoughts, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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