Triptych with Cityscape
in sweetrot city air
I swallow pills
for happy —
forget how to be a living
my body’s slow
of the fusty crush
of creatures jostling at dusk—
men & women
the L as a charm of finches
overhead. in the hospital,
watching the news,
building briefly ablaze
on Devon Avenue,
where people push hands daily
to fill gaps in my teeth.
I’m a different kind of brute from what the man on the train thought —
me facing the window as he asked
how’d you get your hair to be so straight?
his reflection in plexiglass — dull form warped, grin crooked, coat
stained with booze & upchuck. he stammered confused
when I turned — but I was all mum-smiles
as I got off at Hyde Park, where shiny condos swallowed shoddy brick.
always smile — even
after papa scooped me up from the psych ward
he warned me of a mother’s shame, & I nodded.
but I told him —
if you find me on a sidewalk, head in a puddle under a streetlamp,
oil seeping into my sorry mouth —
help me stand. tell me again
of my mother & her name —
my wilderness: so that I might lift myself from concrete, shuck off
my pallid skin, & inhale —
I am lucky: my pulse mimics the slap
of sandals in gutter ponds where a child plays
under the spout of a hydrant. mornings,
I rise to windwhistle shrill between buildings.
Saturdays I slurp rice noodles, tofu skin,
in Chinatown — patina of hoisin sticky
under tongue. & nights, before burrowing
into sleep, I loose my hair from its flaccid coil.
so if I don’t wake if I fester lifeless
in my own muck, into maggots feasting —
it’s because I’ve coddled my yearnings,
left my body spoiling in noonday heat: the kind
that leaves a mark even on the darkest part of me.
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