Sign Language

I'm beginning to worry about the little man who shouts STOP!
From inside the sign. Inside the sign
All day he sits, cogent and lucid, while
The written world passes on
Meaningless streets. Each morning
As I awaken, he slips from his bed
Into the metal booth; lights a single candle; and pulls tight
The red and white lid. STOP, STOP,

STOP! he shouts, over and over, even when
No one looks on. I wonder what
It must be like down there
In the dark, watching
That candle. Day after day
The same candle. For o so long

I was sure the little man worried for our sake, that his shouts
Were a warning, I was sure of that.
Then one day it came to me: he has
Just that one candle. STOP, STOP, STOP
He pleads, over and over, but when that one burns out
That will be that.

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