They appeared suddenly, as if out of thin air:
two men covered in filth, long of beard and tooth.
Gaunt and jaundiced, they followed us with clouded eyes
unblinking from church steps to liquor store,
from parked cars to post office. We meant to tell them
transients weren’t welcome, but we never got the nerve.
They never addressed us. When they bent to whisper
in each other’s ears, small black puffs wafted up
and their fingers grew red with the glow of something
hidden just behind the cupped hands hiding their mouths.
Last week, when those three teenage girls were found
dead, cigarettes still pinched in their teeth,
we tried to find the strangers—who else could we
suspect?—but the corner they’d been standing on
for what had seemed like years was empty except
for two bent walking sticks left leaning on the wall.
Outside, the air was beginning to shift—to cool.
In the far distance, a cloud bank darkened. Moved closer.