63rd AND PULASKI
It has been you I have wanted to look at,
proving my faithfulness to my home away
from home: the appendix: something I can
live without. I had forgotten there were stars
this bright, forgotten that blocks can be
arranged and counted, their absence a reward
for sleep, their presence a reward for seizing.
The coast is gone; the ocean comes back
to us, it mouths its phosphorescence the way
destiny licks an ankle, then moves away. In
this city, seagulls greet me in the oddest places:
a supermarket parking lot, an underpass
passing for a tunnel, next to scaly pigeons
who circle finely with no shrapnel in their legs.
The seagulls whip and strain around them
by train tracks. We fall against nothing. We turn
to stone. We smolder in sunlight. Out
of respect for the gloves, the glass stays clean.
How lucky we are that others who go don’t
want to come back. At noon, the grocery store
closes its doors, the sun begins to tarnish,
nights with you are not nights at all, says
one seagull to the pigeon. No, she replies,
your head goes best in the way of leaves.
ERICA BERNHEIM's poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, the Canary, Court Green, Gulf Coast, Volt, among others. She also reviews poetry for Bridge Magazine, and is the poetry editor for Keep Going. She lives in Chicago, teaches poetry and literature, and is working on a Ph.D.