Monday, April 26, 2010

A Love Poem Set at 14th Street, Union Square

It was just 14th street,
just Union Square,
practically vacant
in the drizzling rain.

You see, since we got back from Paris
we’ve spending more time in the city.
That’s what people who live in New York City
but not in Manhattan call Manhattan. The City.
Isn’t that funny?
As if Brooklyn were Another City
and had succeeded in seceding.

The Q train went over the bridge and we stood on the train,
hand in hand, watching all that water below us. We took a chance on the Q train.
We didn’t watch the Brooklyn Bridge. We stood facing the other way,
My gloves necessary in rainy April.

We didn’t have anywhere to go or anything to do, it was one of those days.
Just a couple extra bucks and curiosity about what we could find at Strand.
The hope for a couple beers at the Grassroot. That was all. It was that kind of Sunday.

Before we left we got Halal food from the truck
and sat on the stairs cause they were the only part that was dry.
Before we were done, some guy joined us. We ate together. Us and this guy.

And later on, waiting for the D train,
I would ask you if you ever wanted a handcar to pass suddenly
squeak down the subway tracks, two old men dressed in overalls
arguing about getting lost. Wouldn’t that be funny?
You nod and smile and kiss the top of my head.
I forgot to tell you that in Australia they call them Kalamazoos.

But before all this we got off the Q train in 14th street
and it was drizzling again. There were no chess players.
No market. No vendors with pictures of Obama.
There weren’t even any skateboarders.
The men and women with the Free Palestine sign weren’t there either.
And they were always there. Freeing Palestine was a full time job.

You asked, “Do you feel like the city is vacant? Empty?
Like it belongs to just us?”
And I tell you Yes, with a smile.
But I don’t tell you that also
sometimes when we are shoulder to shoulder with people
on the corner of Broadway and 14th street
and one of his gets elbowed or hit with a handbag
and we can smell their breath and overhear their pointless
conversation and when we count how many times someone
says “like” into their cell phone,
that those times, too,
even during those times,
smashed shoulder to shoulder
with the worry that their won’t be any seats
at the bar,
even then,
it can feel like it’s just us.