From the Lower Depths: for Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange

A living room in the street
beneath the freeway
where a dog barks 24/7
tied to a clothes line
a sawhorse corralled
near a barbecue pit
pallets and bedspreads

rescued from last year’s
construction site
a chair missing one arm
but still good enough
to relax
on a summer’s evening
and listen to the sound
of commuter traffic.

He said he used to be
a Shakespearean actor
tall with broad shoulders
salt and pepper hair
people in the audience
used to call him
dignified
now he’s missing
most of his front teeth
couldn’t understand
everything he said
about a stage
how he wanted to build it
beneath the overpass.

Dorothea Lange showing
at the Oakland Museum
Dust Bowl photos
how engineers dammed
Lake Berryessa.

If she were alive today
I bet she’d open her wallet
show him pictures of her kids,
explain where she grew up,
went to school,
what she did for a living
then quietly ask
if she could take pictures
of him in his living room
Just sit in that chair,
she’d say, it’ll do fine…

she might even ask him to recite
a scene from Hamlet, or better yet,
get the actor to introduce her
to his friends
let us see
what it is we won’t.

About Lenore Weiss

Lenore's collections include "Tap Dancing on the Silverado Trail" (2011) from Finishing Line Press, “Sh’ma Yis’rael” (2007) from Pudding House Publications, and "Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island" (West End Press, 2012). Her writing has won recognition from Poets&Writers (finalist in California Voices contest) and as a finalist for Pablo Neruda Prize, Nimrod International Journal. The Society for Technical Communication has recognized her work regarding Technical Literacy in the schools. All material is copyrighted on this site and cannot be used without the author's permission.
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