Leverett Circle

Listen to audio of Dan Chiasson reading “Leverett Circle”here.

What helping him involved was first
his helping me. What helping me

required was his cradling my sandwich
in his lap, jeans black with rainwater.

My sandwich was his freight
and he was mine, and O the sharp

curb scared us both, two strangers, as
of course the rain rains equally upon

the deli and the hospital. And when
I handed him my sandwich he

said thank you as though I’d given it
away, and later when he gave

it back I thanked him as I’d thanked
the woman working at the deli

earlier. The world is full
of curbs. The world is full of ruts

that take a wheel wherever they will
and furrows any wheel will follow

and so I asked him too soon You
got it from here, Sir?
and he had

to answer No, please get me over
: there, some sort of border

under my awareness, some mark
on the blank brick walk. When he returned

my sandwich carefully it didn’t mean
I’d earned it back, but that I could

begin not knowing him again; and when
he thanked me far from I am new

it meant I’ll wheel myself from here.