People detour around Susan
rummaging through the garbage cans
on Ocean Avenue in Carmel.
She sees their eyes as mirrors,
her reflection a frightening demon,
and hears a clutter of voices in her head.
Every day we meet on the sidewalk near Doud Arcade.
When she looks up, I smile, wish her a good morning.
She mumbles hello, remembers my name,
then slides back into a private world
while cursing, throwing trash and empty cans.
The visitors who don’t know her
cross to the other side of the street.
Sometimes I wonder what chemical imbalance
could push me off the same ledge where
Susan and I would forage among discards
and together shriek in frustration, furious
at the cosmos or whatever got in our way.