I didn’t expect it to be locked,
when I pulled the heavy glass door.
We stood there stunned like birds
who fly into a woman’s window
making her feel both guilt and pride
for the precision of her scrubbing.
My hands still smelled of pennies
from when we realized they installed meters
and I had to maneuver between fast food receipts
in the glove box
for something bigger than a dime.
We decided to sit on the hill
And live out the remaining hour
and twenty-five minutes
Watching people paddleboat,
Romantic bumper cars like swans floating below,
And wondering whether the homeless
Use that water to bathe at night
Because we would.
You lounged there toying
With your baby hairs
And your shadow became a monkey
Searching for lice
Or scratching its head in confusion.
I remembered River
And how we would watch the same episode
Of Curious George
Standing up to rewind every twenty minutes
Until it was time to play
In the sandbox.
We’ve been to the beach since then,
Wandered through Times Square
Eating pistachio gelato,
Driven to Chicago
In the pitch-black pouring rain,
But I still prefer the hill.
Two daisy thieves,
Asking the air
why a museum would close on Mondays,
And being glad it did
Because we saw the Frisbee sun
And how it made the water sparkle
So that the swans roamed through a sea of stars
And that was art enough.
Hold my hand while we run up the stairs.
I know it makes us stumble and our palms are damp,
But if this were a movie or music video,
Our fingers would be intertwined.
I remember when you first showed me this spot, your spot.
You said the cops never come but if they do don’t run, just walk.
They’re only photos.
We’re only artists— or trying.
Why did you trust me with this secret?
You say it’s just an abandoned parking garage,
But we both know it holds the magic of a McDonald’s playplace,
And the danger of a highway bridge at rush hour.
Everything is just a roadmap from this tower.
People disappear into the sidewalk,
And no one can see us because no one is looking up.
I wonder if they’re smiling.
You don’t let me take your picture,
But I can’t resist.
I capture your legs dangling off the ledge,
And wonder if you ever feel fear.
I fill my memory cards with snapshots of the city
Not because it is particularly attractive,
But because it is particular.
It is home no matter where my body wanders.
Don’t zoom in.
Let me remember how little we all are,
And how the skyscrapers look like a giant’s building blocks,
And how the graffiti wall is a Michelangelo mural,
And how beautiful the light is when it strikes the windows
Of people working desk jobs
Who complain about the glare.
Nana Stares Out the Window
In a kitchen that smells of burnt coffee.
The morning silence is broken,
The first words of the day—
Her eyes fill with light
Like she just spotted
The forgotten ruby earring
That was lost in the sand last summer.
Outside: a red throat dances, humming among the leaves.
Her body becomes the statue
Of a strong Greek goddess
Unaware of her missing right hand;
More beautiful for it.
Her breathing is calm
Lungs filling with recycled air
Of hundred-year-old oak trees
And freshly bloomed azaleas.
The hummingbird lingers at the feeder
Drinking the sinful red nectar
Too good to be true
Too sweet to resist.
Aware of what is at stake
Her eyes meet mine to whisper
This is life. Only this.
And then they return.
I study her face—
A road map
Of past laughter and tears.
Where will this moment remain?
The hummingbird vanishes
Playing hide and go seek
Through the glass window.
The tree is again just a tree; the dance a fading memory.
Every morning the bird returns
And every morning she is greeted
By the wonder of a child
Who just saw their first snow
And the wisdom of a woman
Who decides to make a snow angel
Knowing it could be her last.