a tree did grow
in Brooklyn. it was June--
our third-- and the summer weather
hadn't turned yet:
school was just out, Prospect Park was never full, and the nights
were still cool.
it was summer in the city before it comes unglued.
i had yet to resent the F train terminal
or its crowds
or its sweat. i hadn't grown bored
of 23rd St. on one end of the day
and Church Avenue on another,
or of the cost of cigarettes
or coffee or of the FOODTOWN sign
at the top of the subway steps.
it was a beautiful month
because it was doomed barely to last
its 30 days.
and there were too so many long hours,
sitting barely shaded
on your stoop,
fending off the landlord's sister and the bugs and waiting
for the fall.
each time i've gone back
since then i've sat
on those slow steps;
that summer it was no different: three months to crown three
moving so timelessly
that next month the heat bore down,
not the heat only of the sun and the air but the wet,
***** heat of the city,
steam forever rising from underground, the oil spills
in the gutters beginning to boil.
but still it was New York
and summer. the roaches and rats hadn't yet
eaten all the fireflies.
i grew to love routine
disquiet: the long car rides to Queens,
the Mets games and their pretzel smell and riding back,
my homemade tank top leaking Magic marker onto my chest;
the trips to the beach at Rockaway, sullen and determined, and their return
to Manhattan, tasting like salt (and you, once,
like blood) and my hair stiff
with brine and feeling the sand in our shoes grit
against the ***** sidewalks;
those quick walks
from Smith&9th Streets,
sipping Mexican Cokes and rationing our time
all of July was exhausting,
but familiar by then.
in August the tornado came,
first Brooklyn'd seen in 30 years. we two
slept blissfully through it, woke only
for the aftermath.
we went outside almost giddy, certainly
and the tree
which had stood outside so
having missed the bedroom window
by only a few feet.
[it was June--
beginning to boil
all the fireflies.]