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.

Steel Toed Heroine

She is one
of three sisters
too. She dives
into her own

wrecks. She can’t pick
up all that slack
on the line. But
she’ll celebrate

the way those combat
boots sink.

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.

Sacrificial

She vows not
to fear the rain
that may come. Words
she may exchange
with a stranger, banker,
barista, vintage dress
shop owner. The best
road to ending
sentences. Answering
the phone. She has said
no vows
before—fears
it may be too late.

Uncharted

To believe a city’s breathing
can awaken prairie grass,
to know a river
did not freeze

behind her, to inspect
high clouds in search

of an old lover’s
face (any one would do)
is to be
more than a witness

to these strange days,
stranger nights.