Breathing by John Ogren

Waiting at a stoplight,
I noticed a plastic shopping bag
caught in the upper branches of a tall, leafless tree
across the freeway.
The palest gray, it first made me think of an egg.
I might have seen it before—
a jelly fish hovering over the asphalt,
it had seemed the freest thing in the strip mall parking lot.
Teased by the wind, the egg suddenly collapsed and reinflated.
This cycle repeated like desperate gasping.
The breathing was a beating.
Later that day, when I exited the freeway
to join a long line of cars on the access road
waiting at the red light,
I saw a man standing at the intersection holding a sign and a foam cup.
When we started to move, he stared straight ahead,
cup oscillating slightly in his hand,
his cardboard covered with words too small to make out.
As we sped past, he seemed caught on that corner,
and we blew by him, mighty and empty as the breeze.