At the crossing of Story Street and Branch
stands the house where the old lady lived
who bicycled downtown each Thursday evening
pulling a cart, a card table, pamphlets
full of heart and socialism,
to her post between the flower vendors
and the barbecues.
Here’s the school where we skinned our knees,
bruised our hearts, where we taunted
and were taunted,
until June came in sixth grade –
we sang out last children’s songs
signed each other’s notebooks and t-shirts,
saying nothing of our fear and wonder
at what came next.
It’s quiet here.
A bicycle ticks by, a sprinkler drips
droplets on my pant cuffs, on my shoelaces.
A bus rumbles around the corner
where Manuel’s Liquors still sells treats
like Abba Zabba and Jolly Ranchers
and still they pour them stiff
at the Gaslight Lounge
where we filled our hearts and spilled our guts,
turning twenty-one years old.
A blue jay screeches.
Breezes run their fingers
through front porch chimes
move tree to tree
A magnolia with one white blossom.
Red bottle brushes, avocados,
lemons and pines.
From thin, robust branches
persimmons emerge, small and green,
for a sweet November.