I’m wearing a black sheath dress and stiletto heels,
a soft-sided briefcase slung over one shoulder,
black leather purse hanging from the other.

Tucked under one strap is a gray shawl and
a looped black braided cord that isn’t mine.

I pass two men on the corner at Mill and hear
She’s cute!                       I   do    not    feel    “cute.”

At the crowded bus stop I stand under the clock
in front of the jeweler’s and wait and wait and

the Euclid bus doesn’t come. Father doesn’t come.
Walking farther along the now-deserted street,

the buildings derelict and boarded, the pavement
rough, I adjust and re-adjust the bags, tread

carefully to avoid cracks, take care not to lose the shawl
and braided cord. A bus stops, I get on, look around

for Father, take a seat halfway back across the aisle
from a brown-suited man holding two yapping

dachshund puppies. He says we’re on the cemetery
route so I get off, but now I’m carrying a stray

calico. Retracing my steps, tired, feet hurting,
the kitten a-wiggle, I trudge toward the Phoenix.

Maybe Father waits for me there, or I’ll ask
a bellhop to call a cab to take me                     where?

The hotel is just ahead, but the blocks
get longer and longer, the sky darkens, Main Street
narrows, the buildings seem to close in  … 

Chloe, my calico, wanting breakfast, rubs against my face.