He did not drive the 1987 big green Lincoln.
Stationary, stuck in the corner of a parking lot
behind a gracing church, the Lincoln was home,
all his possessions racked in the back,
special toggle switch to bypass
the power block disabled, no blinkers,
tail lights or brake, battery mainlined
to dome light and the bright segments
of radio for baseball games heard
in twilight before he slept on the front seat
his feet stuck in the steering wheel
like ivy wound through iron grate.
Escaped to furnished housing,
he ate like a woodpecker at a bird feeder,
a hand clutching the table, his legs
like a tail up against the bottom for balance,
head dipping over like a beak,
eyes at the level of his food,
in perpetual fear of his dead mother
returning to take away his meal.
a gallon of four percent milk,
a ride home, a visit in intensive care,
a burrito, a coffee, a smoke.
Praise and thanksgiving poured from his lips
as powerful as waterfalls in spring,
the slightest help memorialized.
At night in the car to stave off boredom
he would make an imaginary cemetery,
tombstones with the names
of those who had given him gifts,
pretend to visit each stone, call out each name,
but he was lousy at names, so the tombstones etch
bore not a name but a function.
He called me the Whole Milk Man,
the Warm Hand of the Emergency Room.
painted bubbles in their still life
to show the transience of existence
in the breath of the bubble,
that even though still life captured
a moment forever, the bubble
would burst, life into death.When I watch rain puddle
and drops splash, each making
a bubble as it falls into the puddle,
I think of Steve.
He was my Bubble Man.