We hear the tap-tap-tap first,
then see the slow shuffle of my best friend’s
uncle, blind from birth.

Leather straps on his shoulders sprout
a tray of candy bars, $.25 each.
Some of the kids on the playground shout
Hey, Candy Man!
My best friend and I run up to him,
call him Ray.  He smiles at that, hands us
a Milky Way to share.

Past the school yard, I watch him pause
at a lilac bush; seem to sniff its lush perfume.

Over the years, I have often wondered
if fragrance sculpted shapes, conjured colors
behind his sightless eyes; and if he paged
through those scent-painted images
as he trudged along the hard landscape
of his daily sidewalk circuit?

I can still see Ray, slumped in a chair, soaking
his feet in Epsom Salts; his parents,
my best friend’s grandparents, shushing
his complaints.  Go play, children! barked
at us.  Too late.