by Karl Shapiro

Something tells him he is off-limits
When he visits the old establishment, maybe for mail.
He still has his key, but it has a slippery feel.
A colleague gives him a startled look, an over-emphatic Hi!
Both act almost as if they had seen a ghost,
Both know they would rather meet on the street
Than in this particular environment, why
Meeting like this is a kind of misstep.
They wave each other off like a gardener and a bee.
Leaving, he stumbles a little, out of deference,
Hoping he won’t run into any Young Turks.

Poetry (October/November 1987)

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