Fog on scratched windows
People shift their feet
I loosen my scarf some
Settle into my seat
Ground myself through observations
Two girls eating lemon pies
The crumbles tumble down
Their black dresses
Yellow sticky fingers
The smell of hasty disinfectant
And a cologne I can’t place
I make mental calculations
Only one more week
I look forward to the time
When buildings will give way to trees
I will be barefoot on wet pavement
The smell of dirt salt and pepper
I bite the inside of my mouth
The train lurches forward some
As we pick up the pace
We fly past platforms
The people on them click by
Like zoetrope images
The train slows again stops
We all lean forward and count
The days on our fingers
What day is it?
How many more stops?
It should have been warm by now…
Her body is a landscape when she lays in the bath
Her stomach is the plains
Her breasts the rolling hills
The space between a valley
Peninsula arms stretch out
Her fingers play in marshy deltas
Legs stick up as distant mountains
Obscured by mist
As she exhales the lands are flooded
Water fills the planes
Trickles into the valley
The marshes disappear and
The peninsula coasts get smaller
She purges the land until she must catch her breath
The floods retreat
The landscape is dry again
Life prospers and grows
Unaware of the flood that will return
When she loses her breath again
If you should come and find the front gate faded,
It is because I never painted it white.
If you see the garden is filled with dead flowers,
It is because I did not tend to them.
If you see the mailbox filled with letters,
It is because I never had one address.
If you don’t see the little dog anywhere,
It is because I never had one.
If you should notice that my husband’s car is gone,
It is because I never had a husband.
If you should find no empty milk cartons on the porch,
It is because I never drank them.
If you look around and notice there are no children,
It is because I never had any.
If you peek in the windows and see the house empty,
It is because I never lived here.
You see, I never stopped studying the Graveyard poets.
And I don’t drink milk.
The boys sell water and fresh juice out of shopping carts
Lined in plastic filled with ice
Their words blend together
Passersby stop to talk to eat some of the ice
They rub it on their arms and hands
One seller stands by his cart his wife and daughter
Sit nearby the child sips a coke and waves
A quick whistle rings out and the boys move
Carts covered and pulled away
The father hurries deeper into the park with his cart
The girls stays with her mama and stroller
Starts to cry in his absence
Her mama holds her hands her another coke
She stops crying after the police on horseback pass
And he returned with his cart
January 20, 2016
On this day, I find myself looking back. To the last time I watched an Inauguration. I remember I was in chemistry class and my teacher turned the lights off. She brought the large projection screen down and fiddled with the remote. A student had to get up and help her put it on the right setting. The room was so dark and I was smiling in it. I felt safe in it. Cocooned in warmth. I wrapped my sweater around me and leaned forward on my desk.
I remember wondering how nervous he was. I remember I didn’t like the poem very much. I remember how it looked cold in DC. I remember the slight rise of veins on his forehead. I remember the class tittering when the lines got messed up. I remember realizing how nervous he was.
I didn’t wonder what the next Inauguration would look like. I wasn’t looking forward. I was trapped in this warm moment. I didn’t know I would be 25 before I saw one again. I didn’t know I would be in New York. I didn’t know how angry they would get. I didn’t know how angry I would get. I didn’t know what it felt like to march between stopped buses and cars. I didn’t know the pain you felt in your arms when you raised a sign for three hours. I didn’t know how easy it was to ignore that pain.
Today I try my best to look forward. I try to remember where I will be tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. We had our plans laid out. Down to almost every day. What are we doing today? What are we doing next week? What are we doing for the next four years? Will it be more than four years? I wonder what our next Inauguration will look like. I wonder who I will be looking at.
This short prose piece was published in Quail Bell Magazine in 2017.
We met at a whiskey bar in Williamsburg. It was our favorite meeting spot because we could both get to it easily from our apartments. Her from Bushwick, and myself from South Slope. It was strange that we lived in the same city but hardly saw each other. The few neighborhoods that separated our apartments had seemed to grow and swell in the last few years.
“What is her name?” Kate asked. Continue reading “Kate & David”
I hear the train but I do not see it
At work it whizzes by and I look for it
In bed I hear it as my mind begins to touch dreams
I go to the window and listen again but it is gone
Nothing but the internal hum as it departs
Or is that my body humming longing
For that sound the sound I no longer hear
But I know it is there somewhere in my home
Town it promises movement travel an eternal
Rumble of change or perhaps I miss only its sound
Which I heard from my bed as a child it was comforting
But maybe only in the sense that the world moved
Around me while I lay still
The girl next to me speaks softly timidly her words unsure
As she asks if she can practice her English on me the first
American she has ever met she recites like a perfect student
The words lilting and accented with strange syllables when she
Speaks to her stoic parents her voice becomes its natural state
Flows from her tongue and lips like a reluctant diver who hesitates
Before the jump but then feels unimaginable euphoria as she falls
When I tell her I live in New York City her hand
Flies to her heart and she sighs simply says Dream
Her breath smells of butter and fats a mouth
That has never tasted the bitterness of cigarettes
The smell of someone who is well fed and warm
She takes my right hand and inspects for a ring
She tells me she is an atheist and has told no one
She tells me she wants to go to New York to see
I do not correct her
*This poem was published in Minetta Review in 2016.
As I lay on your chest the bones underneath seem to stretch
The skin and protrude more drastically and dig at my sides
Like your bones are trying to touch my bones your collar
Bone to my skull your hip bone to my thigh your rib
Cage to my chest it could be so easy to find it uncomfortable
To find the skeleton too jagged the flesh unyielding
But when your hands touch my cheek my hip the space
Between my neck and breasts it is only softness
During the ninth month of the drought, the lake began to dry up. She watched from her window as the water receded, like the ocean before a tsunami. It seemed to happen in fast-motion, right before her eyes. The murky water crept back, revealing every smoothed stone, every decaying twig. Everything, except him. Continue reading “What You Lost”