Today I descend the stairs of the old parking garage
as though I’m under anesthetic,
fragments of the past washing over me
until I am unable to name the artifice of your piazzas,
to call your smokestacks out as noise.
These gaps in memory
impose on my attention the way your various structures do
on the sprawl of the landscape
as your children leap between them
in their F-150s, Chevy vans, and discontinued Buicks, as the buses
and elevated train cars offload bodies
in exchange for other bodies.
Even so, I remember the gas station up the avenue, selling what passes
for New York-style pizza
spinning behind a pane of glass,
and the intersection it took a full ten minutes to navigate on foot,
how I was so sure, then,
of my father’s command over the crowded street
I never questioned, never thought in all the world
we could be lost.
We were going to the same place
all those grim travelers out along Jefferson were going, the place
they disappeared to,
the traffic shooting west toward the Harbor Terminal
with its warehouse painted a startling blue, the dock where the ferries
loaded passengers bound for Boblo
and your cargo ships departed
filled with steel coils, wire, and slabs destined for auto plants.
We were going
where the years went, as we watched entire decades
dissipate up and down these streets we walked, hand in hand,
the same place we’re still going,
in all the world no day like this.
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