Betsy Sholl

Little Elegy

Oh how he loved his cup
and now he’s dirt
under the pine trees

–Li Po
A moment of silence at Soup Kitchen
for our saint of the quick grip, faking
a side stitch to hide the bottle under his coat,
for his taped shoes and worm-eaten watch cap,
that clarifying fish pier scent, raw-grained
and terrifying smell of the skids,
how little it takes to wake up over a grate,
half-dissolved in shadow and mist–
half-dissolved, but still blissed out, bantering
with buddies, flailing on icy streets,
then catching hold of a lamppost and nodding
to it, to the sky, the glittery walk,
to a passing taillight, an old belief,
foolish or fearless, that everything’s sacred,
and now he’s gone.

Betsy Sholl
“Little Elegy” is from Late Psalm (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).