I spend the week wondering what I can do for him, not just unload but bestow on him to brighten his prospects without, I admit, ever wanting his hopes to glow more brightly than mine and yet, I want him to be happier to receive than I am to relinquish whatever item I halfway hide in the piles of trash by the curb. I am increasingly challenged in every aspect of this calculation. I used to just put out the trash. He used to just idle his crumpled van at the motley curb on a Monday night in the bashful dark in hope, in deeply wrong-headed imagined hope of a find, whatever a find might have been. He’s never said what he’s looking for. I’ve never asked for fear he might name what I won’t give. I’ve put out some valuable stuff to test my theories. Come Tuesday morning, if the items are still there, I let them go for the lesson. I wish I could say I was learning. I would have thought, in fact I did think, that he wanted whatever he could sell but if that were true, if that were true he would have taken my trophies for the metals; instead he shrugs off my accomplishments and their semi-precious mementos but the next week takes, which I never expected, a scrapbook of personal photos. Of me, that is, and mine. I have little left of any interest but live for Monday nights when now and then from the shadows of the sad black street I watch a man’s head turn in interest, briefly intrigued, and from that motion glimmering in streetlight catch a glimpse of what is essential and calculate on the basis of that new evidence, which I trashpick, what I can live without.

Copyright © June 26, 2008 David Hodges

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