Red-winged blackbirds have haunted
the thick hem of cattails
surrounding this city park lake
for as long as I can remember.
Why this day did one choose
to attack my head?
Yes, I veered too close to its nest.
I get it—an overprotective parent.
But I’ve run along this floating
fishing pier so many times before.
Takes me back: dancing to
Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels”
in some Firá disco on Santorini
on a hot summer night in 1985.
I had heard the song
so many times before. But
that late evening under
the twinkling lights and influence
of cheap Greek beer
and lust for
an Armenian American boy
from New York City,
(Meet me in the warm clear blue water.
. . . Let’s walk across the flaming red
pebbles of Kokkini Beach holding hands
and talk about the weather. . . .)
it hit me like a beak to the skull.
I must shed the red and black
of my alma mater, or I’d end
up living in The City.
Swimming in a Connecticut quarry
two months earlier (okay, it was a pond) during a thunderstorm because my friend died in a car crash, I wasn’t ready
to heed any warnings. I am only now
wondering who swept the floor
the next morning. Cardinals belong
to a completely different family.
Some nomadic men
start a campfire
in my little city park
1,200 miles and decades later.
I’m knee deep in it, hoping
to fish usable text
from the gutter down the street
during a much-needed rain shower.