by Alex Thomas
On your first winter in the new city you stand
at the train platform and read the name
of the station again and again until
it feels like the name
of a relative. At the bar they push you out into the near dusk,
into the scuttling darkness
and the daylight feels like a dog-eared page. You can’t
remember the last place you saw your bicycle and you
gave it to the city.
The weatherman said the first snow would
fall next week. The weatherman hedges a
lot of bets. You don’t remember them by name.
The cherry blossoms come in the spring like pink bodies
lining themselves along the reservoir.
Like lipstick. Like the lungs of a grapefruit.
You meet her in a bar or you don’t.
Your favorite band comes to town and you drink with somebody new.
Most nights you turn the television to the baseball game
and watch the small white of the ball circling the field.
The stray cat that lives in your neighborhood will eat
from your hand and you feed it prosciutto,
rough tongue on soft palm.
You meet her during the hockey playoffs when the city’s
team is in the finals and the bars are swelling with red.
The days are getting longer and you slip a dollar
into the fingers of a sleeping homeless woman
on the bus and her cardboard sign is on the floor.
At the indie theater they don’t check the ticket stubs
and you can sit in the cool back seats and watch
the faces change on the screen. The tangling plots and
lovers and murderers and the white names on the black.
You go back to the bar and they know that you drink
whiskey from the rail. And maybe that’s where you
meet her beneath the pennant on the wall, stoplight
red. You watch some other sport on the television,
some other bodies in some other uniforms. And she
tells you about the beach. Or you drink alone, with
the bartender eyeing you and
the shadows growing like weeds.
Alex Thomas lives in Washington, D.C., where he is the political correspondent for Playboy. His poetry has been featured in Cherry Tree, Cimarron Review, Roanoke Review, and elsewhere.