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The Bottom of the Fifth

by Knute Skinner

My eyes followed his to the window.
A year’s accumulation of smoke and grease
filtered the already muted
colors of the alley.
We had said one year.

I stood there a long minute
while the line of his profile hardened.
I could hear from the radio in his office
that the Cubs had a runner on second
in the bottom of the fifth.

Though the money was mine to take,
I was hesitating.
It no longer seemed like enough.

But it does go a long way here in Santa Cruz.
It buys a lot of drinks for my young friends
as I sit out a sequel of golden days
under these slow and capacious
blue skies.


Taken from ‘Roughly Speaking’ (1991), page 33.

Knute Skinner

A Glacial Breath