Two Portraits


water covers my view on this sunny day,
splashes off the sponge, drips and slides down the window
squeegee squeaks smoothing and removing excess
brown hat, green, yellow, and red encircled, rest upon 
the window cleaner’s head, shading his eyes
doesn’t see, or chooses to ignore, the row
of computers, coffee, and humans in front of him
separated by glass, separated by income, by class
dark wrinkles, teeth missing, aged mouth moving
focused conscientiously on the job,
bucket, towel, sponge, squeegee, soap
tools of his trade contained, pulled behind
as he shifts side to side walking with effort
old bones, old joints, old life limiting him
but still he works, moving on from window to window
leaving only a stray streak behind to show he was ever here


rattle, clash of bottles startles me, lifts my eyes from the engulfing glow held in my hand
“mahrning,” she says, she passes,
followed by the clatter and clash of bottles,
plastic bags rustling, shopping cart wheels squeaking,
dull black hair, a linear frame around a pallid face
brisk, efficient, covered in her layered mis-matched clothing
winter, spring, fall, even during the heat of summer,
latex gloved hands search, recycle bin to recycle bin
fingertips sensing, plunging up to her elbows
into the leftovers of the wealthy, must be swift,
thorough to beat others to nickel and dime bottles, cans,
among brownstones and historical mansions,
garbage bins, recycle bins as they were,
bulging bags filled, removed, a pittance earned,
only the absence of bottles to show she was ever here