They tell me how the lines in your face
were cut backwards by rivers and honey-drenched spades,
how a mother in her brand-new apron takes one
shoe off in your streets and all the black boys ask: are you mine? are you mine?
They tell me how your soup slurps back,
drowns hungry-red lips in hulking shoulders and pipe organs,
how when you reach the bottom of the bowl, that other side,
an exhaust pipe bellows a blushsmog onto your cheeks
and kicks your bare legs out to the curb.
They tell me how you wear a sundress in the winter,
buried under thundersnow, how you giggle with your frozen toes
painted ice blue. I’m told God loves a child laborer,
throws them out of lakes along their 18-foot waves
to bounce like moonballs off the roofs of stranded cars.
I dare Him to show me another city that will use its spite
to burn through the cold like bright eyes, that will wear the frostbitten pain
of winter like a crown, a medal, a cape. We are so super
in these days of crosshatched light, put together
like cloudbirds making sunnests. We watch them float between
skyscrapers like we’re under-watered, like there’s a surface
just right up there, with its own buoys and seaweed
and broken driftwood. Looking up convinces us
we are gilled and flippered, all scales and sheen.
But wait! Those floating nests of light! They have no
eggs! In what built house could they be hatching?