On My Way Home from the Hospital

Cold night аfter a long day looking after
my tenses, careful. Late December, though
not late enough to turn this drizzle to snow.
In the glow outside the ShopRite, this lady
in a puffy coat puts, is putting, is trying to put
a twenty-dollar bill back in her wallet, easy
thing made hard by gloves and the envelope
she clenches in her mouth. She misses.
The twenty hits the ground. She bends
to pick it up; it blows away. Windy,
though not that windy. It sort of tumbles.
She bends down again; it flits out of grasp
twice over, never stopping more than
a second or two, like a songbird in a bush
moves to keep itself alive. Our lady follows
the bill along the sidewalk, stretching to step
on it in spite her bundling. She’s running now
as best she can down the gentle slope, stomp.
Miss, stomp again. She’s dropping things:
the envelope first. Then her purse, now
her coat. She starts to shriek, maybe with
laughter, maybe fear. And me here, a loss
for how to help her without looking a thief.
All of a sudden, she stops, turns to check
behind, then whirls around again as if trying
to take the damn thing by surprise; though,
by now it has skittered to the edge of the street,
almost into traffic. The seriousness of her
situation seizes her—this is twenty whole
dollars—so she jumps, two feet coming
down together on the bill. They call this
sticking the landing. She brings her arms
down by her side in triumph. The crowd
erupts. There aren’t so many of us, but
we clap, bring her belongings to her,
like flowers for a gymnast. Someone drapes
her coat on her shoulders, a medal she’s won.
I spent my whole day watching someone
I love die—I mean someone I loved.

Robert Wood Lynn’s debut poetry collection Mothman Apologia (Yale University Press, 2022) was selected by Rae Armantrout for the 2021 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. His work has been featured in Antioch ReviewBlackbirdNew Ohio ReviewMichigan Quarterly Review, and other publications. He is an MFA student at New York University where he teaches in the undergraduate creative-writing program. He lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia.