Ascension

This is the spot—the table
beside the escalator. Orange metal
railings mean nothing
to each stranger who steps aboard. She counts

the walkers—only one
so far. Stand
on the right, pass
on the left. She learned it

in the London Tube,
rediscovered it in the NYC Subway,
won’t let it go above
or below grade. It never made it

to this side of the Mississippi. Movement
along these banks depends—
on everything, even
that orange rail.

Who Embezzles Stars

Is the book
still king
on some other planet? Do inventions run

along parallel sun
rays? She asks
these questions without knowing

what to believe
anymore about the universe or red doors. Who

she might trust
to protect these poems
from shattering into weightless space debris

is who she might ask
to answer the rest.

Who Is She

To judge the games
others watch, their fictions,
what’s cold
to another person’s skin. She watches

seasons break
down, intersect, run
along parallel tracks
like subway lines

because she sometimes counts
more than four. And who’s going
to tell her to tally
the world another way?

They Were Identical

She pitches pennies
on the floor in the back
of a New York taxi cab
with twins

she used to know. Thirty-five
years. Nap dreams mean

nothing unless she chooses
to shape them
into visions to augment
the afternoon light.

She’s not going to
google those boys—

learned her lesson.
She doesn’t want to kill
off any more of her past
sooner than it needs to expire.

It’s More than the Step Streets

More than the foot I broke
outside Van Cortlandt Park.
And the friends

and family and
strangers who visited
me up there. To be at the end

of the line
at night and first
on the train the next

morning, to be safely wedged
northwest, to be rich
in two hours’ worth of rhythmic

thought each day is
to be more than the sum
of 160 steps up.