The Gatherers

by Peter Lopatin (May 2020)


Wooded Landscape, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff


Off the shoulder of the road, three men

with sharp-pointed poles stab at trash

like spear-fishers in a coral cove.


They carry black sacks tied to their waists for

their day’s catch, which they slide raw and

ungutted off the poles. I could do well


at a job like that. I like to gather

discarded things: phrases that have

fallen out of favor, unanswered messages,


unspoken misgivings, forgotten heroes,

furtive glances, florid metaphors,

infinitesimal probabilities, the best


of intentions, caution thrown to the winds,

moments that have slipped by unnoticed,

hopes torn to shreds. I might succeed


at a job like that, following every

turn of road, scanning the ground,

doubling back, knowing my sack will never be full.


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Peter Lopatin was born and raised in New York where he earned his JD degree and practiced corporate law for thirty years. Along the way, he studied philosophy as a graduate student at the New School for Social Research. After retiring from his legal practice, he obtained a Certificate from the New School in teaching English as a Second Language and has been an ESL teacher since then. He has taught at the University of Connecticut/Stamford, Norwalk Community College, Manhattanville College and, most recently, at the Stamford English Language Academy. Peter’s short stories and book reviews have appeared in Commentary, The Weekly Standard, The New Atlantis, and New English Review. His poetry has appeared in New Millennium Writings and Poetry East.

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