I desired lemonade—
It was hot and I had been walking for hours—
but after much wrestling,
pushing and shoving,
I simply could not get my couch
through the restaurant door.
Several customers and the owner
and the owner’s son
were kinder than they should have been,
but finally it was time to close
and I urged them to return to their homes,
their families needed them
(the question of who needs what
was hardly my field of expertise).
That night, while sleeping peacefully
outside the train station
on my little, green couch,
I met a giantess by the name of Anna Swan.
She knelt beside my couch
and stroked my brow with tenderness.
She was like a mother to me
for a few moments there under the night sky.
In the morning, I left my couch in Tatamagouche,
and that has made a big difference.
From Hell, I Love Everybody by James Tate. Copyright © 2023 by James Tate. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.