The City Writes Itself
The city is a fake/ a trick of light and mirror
Crêpe. Cardboard. Cake.
The city/ writes itself/ swallows its own
on its own story.
Dandelions’ silver afros,
Wet green tree tarp.
Spring again-- Where was I?
Sudden shrubs, blossoms,
A puddle the size of _____ (insert
anything grand/ anything taking over).
Skeleton umbrellas part the detritus on Rue Manin/ Blurred
photographs, red shoes/ against wet asphalt.
Turning up the toaster won’t heat the room.
I punch a 15th century stone wall,
expect styrofoam, corrigated paper, wire.
Five weeks, fist in a cast, a drug to slow my heart:
The size of/ a fist/ a fledgling bird/ goose-necked
anything cupped/ in a careful hand/ Yes,
the heart is a loose fruit
a casual roll of the dice
It’s a handful of sand in a strong wind.
It’ll take you over if you let it,
I’ve returned to the city I once loved
In the same season I first loved it.
I search for phantoms, create
language for what isn’t there:
You in your green jacket, the rose light of the café,
the storm that drew us out into the street, snapping photographs.
a fierce autumn/ brown-green sycamore leaves
pasted to the streets/ big as our two hands splayed
thumbs touching/ on the fogged glass/ a small swipe
of nose/ of lip
Inside, they are lighting the candles
Tea-lights in small cups.
I see you every time I look away.
*This poem was first published in St. Petersburg Review in 2010.