It’s just us, and sometimes
it smells like fish. The kitchen is so small
that when we cook, our butts touch.
We take our pants off at the door, wonder
if everyone in love does that. We can’t
grow plants, but our tchotchke shelf is a vision.
No place has ever felt so much like my space.
Your voice, guitar, piano, fills all the gaps.
We drew arbitrary boundaries: I could
pour out the plastic urinal bottles, but not
dump his dumps out of the commode, plop,
into the toilet, flush. And sex was another story,
neither of us wanted much at all, imagine
the chemo-semen, coursing gleeful, evil. And
we’d go out to dinner, pretend to be normal,
I’d wheel him push him uphill on 84th street,
the hostess fluttering around us, hospitality,
pity, forgetting which was which.
Not thinking much about my actions
for fear of fear, for fear of wasted time.
I’m a child who reaches up, unthinking,
slipping hand into hand of a stranger where he expected a mother to be.
How can I be stagnant but spiraling at the same time?
How can thinking make doing so much harder?
How can it be that the thought
of looking back with laughter later
brings no solace at all,
Thee sisters leaning over three generations
of kitchenware in boxes,
“That was my mother’s,”
says my mother,
as we grab for the
egg slicer, carafes,
60s-style mugs and
steamers, muffin tins,
the melon baller,
first come first serve,
kneeling on the tile
on the laundry room floor.
The most vivid memories are on sidewalks,
New York in summer and Philly in spring,
bus stops, city benches, outside hospitals, rowhomes,
boys with their hands in their pockets,
cell phone conversations, my tears filling the speaker holes,
a premature kiss on the outskirts of the park,
me approaching in a cab, he on the curb,
and of course, ending things forever
on the divider at 87th and Broadway,
glued to the spot afterwards, knowing,
once we parted, we were shattered.
We planned to lose it to each other
on July 4th (my parents were out of town),
and right before he arrived I heard fireworks,
sat on my sister’s bed in the empty house to look out at them,
but my reflection in the window was all I could see.
The anticipation tied my stomach up.
Independence, I thought.
He arrived, acted the gentleman (always),
we tried, it didn’t work, angry, hurt pride,
his parents called and caught him in the lie,
he left, I cried,
realized I’d never slept alone in the house before.
Independence, I thought.
Winter is yellow snow
and dog shit, too,
the way it steams up a little patch of snow
to make itself a muddy brown depression.
Even right after snowfall,
a thousand colors, blood and piss are brushstrokes on the white canvas.
Armies of homeless mummified in their sleeping bags on church steps.
Is this that three year itch?
When you know whether your love for New York City is eternal
or just a stimulus binge
fueled by bubble tea and take out.
We’re turning the corner of summer, now,
sticky asscheeks on subway seats,
sweat icicles forming in over-air-conditioned vestibules.
Get me to greener pastures, now.