In a one-bedroom apartment, slept
on a twin bed in the corner of the room,
got up early on Saturday while you both snoozed,
turned on the TV low in the living room,
our parents heaped in snores and covers.
We tied scarves to our wrists,
necklaces of pop beads hung
from our necks, danced in front of the
dresser mirror, Bronx gypsies who sniffed
a forest from a cedar box.
Sometimes I watched
sparrows leap across the slats of a fire escape,
played in the Bryant Avenue lot
strained mica from sandstone on rusted screens
into soup cans, counted chicory
stalks and dandelions, climbed the ditch
to Lafayette Avenue and walked back again.
You both seemed so far away—
growing up and getting married,
a shadow play of choices on a wall outside of me.
Dickens’ Christmas Carol,
the ghost of things to come,
but if I reformed my Scrooge—
what I saw didn’t have to be.
Sometimes in front of the moon
of a satellite dish I ask the waves
to cast me back, before they left so early,
our parents who live in a framed photograph.
Joined a generation,
healed myself in California
beneath redwood trees and tide pools
calling out sister, sister,
to see if I could hear you
from the other side of the Old World.
You rolled inside a barrel of work
and family and lived in a different time-zone,
waited for me to come to my senses.
I found my own epoch.
It took years.
Driving back home from Baton Rouge
I pass egrets of plastic bags caught in grass,
houses tottering on stacks of red bricks,
windows with blackened eye lids.
Leveled by wrinkles,
we are close in age now,
no longer the beauties
of Orchard Beach doing birdies
in the air with our father
who held us there
until we found our own blue sky.