gleams in a movie,
its lights gems on the plush display
cloth of night, its bridges bracelets.
Yet the shabbiness of a glimpsed
street corner is what gets through,
and mine reaches out from memory to me—
a speaker of its native language—
with this begrimed cornice,
this lintel, this rain- and sun-mottled awning
over the drugstore window,
this black ash on the sill.
were I to rush there, I could hold
in my hands their distilled atmosphere—
the way someone holds, in the cup
of her ear, a taped voice
achingly familiar. As if
every place we’ve ever called home
does not flow away from us
on an unlooped conveyer—
like the waters of an infinity pool
vanishing over the zero edge.
As if I wanted to reach down
on my chest for the key there
six decades past, to unlock the square skates,
tighten them against my sneakers, lean in
and rumble over the cracked sidewalks flashing mica
from the drugstore to the park,
and glide on its paths and stop
at another corner,
newsstand, candy store, barber shop—
utterly, beautifully, unremarkable.