(Lately the air is different;

I can see eddies and currents,

read the field of color leaking

from skin into space.)


Maybe it’s my imagination

flooding the brim. The man

skimming a book by McCarren pool

seems to notice. (Manhattan gleams

in the distance like a mirage.)

Propped up on one elbow

his long legs stretched out:

the neatly stacked ankles touchingly

fragile, akin to the angularity

of an Egyptian cat

and/or you.

(My bones.)


As I pass

he inclines his head and smiles.

It’s not a smile

that hopes or initiates

but one that rests

in recognition, something

like kinship but neutral.


He has a childish heart

tattoo on his calf

and the outline of a small crab

on his upper arm, superficial signs

obscuring the resemblance to you

who preferred ink on paper.

I nod at this tender irony,

my petty doubt.


But why would I see you

in bright daylight and red bathing shorts,

young and human?

Wouldn’t you return as an eagle-owl,

a cypress tree?


You could not have slipped

into this young person

too old to hold your soul,

a body so foreign

and so similar.


Unless I make room

for the space that is mystery or madness,

intuition or magic, religion

or superstition. The overflow

of being, that uncharted region

where eyelashes trembling are

mountains colliding, where

tectonic plates shift

under your soles.


Maybe the soul once untethered

and formless passes like air

from being to being, breathing

through open windows, dancing

in noses and lungs. Or maybe

it takes shape briefly: a dragonfly

alighting on a warm shoulder,

its quivering wings

illuminating what is invisible;

solid and unearthly, here

then gone.


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