All Time Is One

Stoa at Athens

That’s what I thought as I walked

Through the colonnade-like structure

A stoa of sorts

Along the front wall of the Giant food store

In the Westgate Plaza Shopping Center

On the busy suburban six-lane Route 234

On a chilly March afternoon.

The shopping center,

A strip mall really, has no plaza that I can find.

The developers must have liked the sound of it,

Had wanted to jazz it up a bit.

It is euphonious,

A gold star for euphony, then,

For you, faceless and unknown developers.

So, no plaza but

A stoa, and a small one at that,

About fifty feet long

With three lintels eight feet up

Held by a brick post on one side and

A brick wall on the other,

Barely the width of a shopping cart.

No arches, but I was somehow

Minded of the stoa at Athens where

Zeno the Stoic met his students

Except here instead of ancient Greeks in tunics

(Who didn’t know they were ancient)

Clustered around their teacher

Walking, questioning, discussing

Perhaps letting the warm Mediterranean sun

Warm their faces between questions,

But this stoa lies hard by a traffic lane

At the end of rows of parking spaces

Providing sanctuary from cars,

Not beside olive groves,

And the only other occupant that day,

A nondescript man of no discernible age

Pushed a shopping cart with

A chuck of cheese

A potato

And an onion

In it.

I heard the clatter of the cart’s wheels

On concrete and thought I would have to

Move out of the way

But he turned off, no doubt to drive home

And later walk with his family

Questioning the nature of reality

And together seeking examples of

The beautiful and the good.

 

Dan Verner

March 7, 2016

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