I Defer Pleasure

Patrycja Humienik  

Let it build. Become

a wall. Then four. I install

a spotlight, prepare my speech,

knock over a chair, try

to negotiate geometry. First a house,

a block, then a whole city of wanting.

A pianist rolls her upright Wurlitzer uphill

to play a nocturne with eyes closed.

On the downhill, racks full of fabric

the color of the crest of a wave when the sun hits.

Funyuns at the corner store. Children chalk the sidewalk,

charting territory for hopscotch. Pipelines beneath

boxes 1 through 7. Traffic sign, sinews taut.

A man with palms outstretched.

A man in a blinking box signaling to hurry up and cross,

darting eyes saying, don’t look me so long in the eyes.

Around the corner, at the flower stand,

how I adorn myself. Snatch every tulip, lilac,

hyacinth, night-blooming jasmine, rose — I gather

all blossoms to crown, fill my pockets, stuff

the remaining petals in my mouth. By fistful, by boatload,

I play pretend. That what I won’t let myself have

is my horizon. Water that won’t run out.

I walk three blocks to reach the edge

of an inland sea, minnows circling my feet.

Now the water is oil. The water is lead.


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