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Salesmanship, With Half A Dram Of Tears

Gripping the lectern, rocking it, searching
The faces for the souls, for signs of heartfelt
Mindfulness at work, I thought, as I recited
Words I wrote in tears: instead of tears,
If I had understood my father’s business,
I could be selling men’s clothes. I could be
Kneeling, complimenting someone at the bay
Of mirrors, mumblingly, with pinpoints pressed
Between my lips. That was the life I held
In scorn while young, because I thought to live
Without distraction, using words. Yet, looking
Now into the room of strangers’ eyes, I wanted
Them to feel what I said touch, as palpably
As when a men in double worsted felt
The cuff drop to his wrist. There was a rush
In the applause of gratitude and mercy:
They could go. A teenager, embarrassed
For himself and me, lefthandedly
Squeezed my fingers, and said thanks.

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Poem Salesmanship, With Half A Dram Of Tears - Brooks Haxton