I wrote this on a plane trip to San Francisco in 2008, while sitting next to the gentleman described in the poem.
Robert Redfordâ€™s Banker
makes perfect check marks
next to the names of Maui restaurants
that heâ€™ll visit when the plane lands.
With measured strokes,
he moves money
from one worthy cause to the next.
The handwriting in his register
shows the passage of time,
a certain revealing tremor in the fingers.
A small picture of the actor —
in his halcyon days —
rests on the tray table next to a bill
from the bankerâ€™s club, a map of Maui,
and suggestions for avoiding problems
with Medicare and the tax collector.
He nibbles a deliberate biscotti
and counts to three on his left hand,
fingers pressed, one after another, against his thumb.
Perhaps heâ€™s not counting at all, just
reassuring himself of his own tactile reality,
one not represented by ink on watermarked paper.
The plane touches down, the banker gathers loose papers
to his chest and moves off into the terminal,
searching for his connection, dreaming of the stage.