You measure time by smoking cigarettes,
out on balcony where sunlight strokes
the wooden panels soaked from the rain
cast down from skies that are shades of blue
too beautiful to paint on a borrowed canvas,
once belonging to your mother
who brought it over while on a voyage
through endless waters, cumbersome,
an eternity to get through.
You are in Cartagena. And he is in Virginia.
You and him face-time, looking into screens,
to see if you’ve both aged, to see why
you both no longer smile at sarcasm and punchlines.
You look for jobs on your laptop,
while piano melodies flutter in the background,
nothing coming up in your search,
worth wasting time for. You read books
by Viet Thanh Ngyuen, talk to strangers in bars,
and sleep in until noon in a plush bed built
from hands you’ve never touched.
The clock, ticking on the wall,
a heart still beating under a cage of ribs,
and you don’t want to step foot
on a cold floor where dust refuses to collect,
a path laid out to the balcony
where you stand over the railing,
a dream in your muddied mind, a hangover
perhaps, a change in mood,
a wrist being bent, in an angle
that is in the direction of a journey
you will never take without a hand,
a guide, a push to get you going.
You take a photograph with your phone
of the place where Gabo used to sit and eat,
and drink and write. And you tell yourself,
“What a pretty desk, look how it stands upright.”