To call it dark, would not be enough. A campsite at 3am after all the wood has burned and the stars have shut their eyes. Lungs, after a lifetime with nicotine. Or meat left on a flame, forgotten due to a lover’s quarrel. That dark. The pigeon led me down to where the rats grow old, to where humans learn new ways to be human. The mole people. The subway shadows. Where garbage grows wings, fluttering over the tracks like ghosts. Here, we gathered to share one slice of New York City pizza together. Cheese congealed after waiting too long–slowed down by the other: short legs of humans, lack of wings on I. As we gathered up calories, we spoke in languages neither of us shared, on all the ways we’ve loved before. Seventeen times for me, and only once by this pigeon, unrequited and undisturbed. Towards a letter it once carried. Many, many years ago,
Bodies fold like tired laundry. Beds are no longer a necessity when eyes climb closed and the push/pull of subway lulls bones to sleep. We wear our coats now. Construction boots. Necks are scarve’d and skulls are capped by wool. How contagious is that cough at the end of this train. Would we still exist without cell phones or candy crush.
At 6:36am on Wednesday, the sky still sleeps. Call it eighty shades of black with planets that blink. If I hadn’t of noticed that chip in the moon last night, I might have forgotten why I look up so often. At 125th Street, the humans get off and suddenly that coveted blue bench is empty. I am book-ended by sleepy commuters and across, a man shakes his neck toward the music piped into his ears. I need no record or radio to channel the pre-recorded rhythms in my mind.
Outside, pigeons flap wings wearing reminders of breakfast: barbecue sauce, bones on their breath. I cannot explain why I call them my favorite bird, but maybe it is their flight. History as grey and white mailboxes or. Maybe it is the way they are ignored or shooed away. And aren’t the most beautiful parts of earth also what we tend to forget to notice?
A jackhammer in the distance and I turn the music up. Everywhere, urine reminds me that not everyone has a home to piss in and sometimes we need to sit inside that. Home is cramped, shared living space with mice and mold.
Home is pigeons professing poetry against my window. Home is underground and scraped sky and art painted on brick walls, dripping. And when I am here, I am away or want to be or need to be. And I’ve tried to run away for three decades searching for this home inscribed on greeting cards and etched on doorways. But within me is a vagrant and I am searching for the address hidden inside my body.