The meetings with the man on the toilet will end Thursday
It is the right of the student to leave his shoes
outside the bathroom for the man himself squats barefoot.
In the mornings the man finishes another book, orders his milk,
and when the milkman comes to fetch his tip,
it is the right of the student
who has forgotten the money again to ask for forgiveness.
It is forgiveness that trembles in the open
window and the open window that
cries out to the world outside the bathroom
of the twenty-fourth floor
where the mirror is turned
upside down on the floor
to support Picasso’s “Prophet holding a baby owl.”
In the bathroom,
it is Picasso who proffers the soap bar. In the bathroom,
the student and the man talk little, drink milk,
listen to the marionettes for it is winter,
and finally come to the conclusion that there will never be
anything of substance to argue about, and so
the meetings with the man on the toilet will end. It is Thursday.
It is the right of the student to leave the bathroom at this point.
At this point the man will stand up
from his seat, flush, wash, sigh.
The milkman will himself choose to take a rain check,
The student will, as is his right, mention to his mother
the name of the man with whom he has spent
his mornings, and his mother will lament to the church.
The mirror will be newly hung
on the wall opposite the window,
and as the snow nestles into the cracks of the
lonely apartment, a voice will
be heard on the telephone, sullen but crisp,
answering the questions it has posed to itself.