Sunday, June 19, 2016

i am the emperor of sidewalk

The sunrise is on the Randall's Island footbridge,
which is green and shining, like liberty's torch,
and they have put scaffolding over a stretch of sidewalk where no buildings are.
It is an awning of an invisible bodega, covering my pathway home with shade.
The flies are buzzing over dog shit,
and the air begins to buzz with sirens,
whistles and a taxi cab sitting on his horn.

This is my road, and the sunshine and the
terrible smell of Spanish Harlem summer sidewalk
and the dirt and train tracks spinning towards the Bronx
and the buses rolling slowly into their depot garage to be washed,
these are all mine.

They are mine, because I have cried here,
on this stretch of sidewalk,
and I have talked here--to my mother,
my sisters, my friends, my brother,
my enemies, inconsequential acquaintances,
and my imaginary conversation partners who will never
hear the arguments I constructed in the clouds above the
Metro North tracks and the trees that grow beside them.

This sidewalk is mine because I have walked here,
mostly every day,
for months,
and my feet are shaped differently because they have met this concrete,
and the concrete has the impressions of my running shoes etched into his surface.

And I have walked here in winter, when I was counting down the steps towards home,
I have walked here in autumn, enjoying the breezes rolling off the river,
I have walked here in spring, soaking up the warm outdoors, and in summer,
counting the beads of sweat that roll down and pool in the small of my back and bra.

It seems impossible that this walk,
this stretch of sidewalk will ever stop being a part of me.
It is mine, I belong to it.
I have glared at taxis speeding around the corner here,
I have watched with wonder at the man with his boombox,
marching up and down with his girlfriend,
as they shout with pagan gusto on Sunday mornings.
The window there, with its mirrored surface is my mirror,
I flip my hair and watch my reflection flip hers,
some days I note how serious and jowly I look,
sometimes the window tells me I look nice,
(and then I flip my hair, for the benefit of no one but the neighborhood cat
and the abuela with her pit bull)
I belong to the surprise view of the glittering river,
and the back door entrance to the bus depot,
and the projects across the tracks,
and the hospital residency dorm room windows with their lights on late at night.

I belong to each and every one of them,
and please don't take them from me yet.

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