Poem: Into the Urban | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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Poem: Into the Urban

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At 10, I kind of liked the horns and the sirens
of Hartford on a Saturday afternoon,
the way roots pushed weedy
shoots between cracks in sidewalks,
how dimly-lit the long carpeted apartment
hallway was, the creaking of floorboards
underfoot, the sleepy brass pendulum
of the grandfather clock in my great-grandparents’
parlor, how Babcia smoked Parliaments and
cheated at cards, only laughing if you caught her,
that a Shirley Temple movie with the sound off
blinked on the black and white TV in the corner.
Then there was the back porch, like a poop deck
to the building’s stern with its great
wicker basket, damp bed sheets smelling
of city winds and distant ports billowing
from the mast of the clothesline. I could lean
over the rails, touch the dirty brick walls of two
neighbors’ apartment houses, pull the cold
iron handle of the garbage chute to peer down
the funk of its black throat. When Dziadek
asked if I wanted to play a game
and all it meant was rolling an empty
Maxwell House coffee tin across the rug
to each other, I said yes every time, spellbound
by the strange simplicity. Back and forth,
back and forth, til there was no going back.

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