When Walking, I Keep My Eyes Straight Ahead

A poem for Wednesday

Dark clouds part in the middle of the frame, showing a hazy golden sky
Balarama Heller

janelle, don’t look down. revere  
the sun. watch it make  
a shallow arc, skimming  
like a stone across the sky.
remember your mother  
is not luminescent.  
your lover is past  
halcyon. watch water  
from the faucet shiver  
on the metal rim and whoosh  
its merry way into the drain hole.  
remember that quiver,
remember your first inhale
of another long winter,
pointed like a pencil tip  
as the wind passes  
through you, an open window.
hold your breath three avenues
to the subway. when someone sounds
like your mother, the fracture
you hid from, close your mouth
and remember your country
let you down first. janelle, don’t lose
track. the sky is the only universal
ceiling. remember we stand  
under it, peeling. slow roasting.  
skewered. we forget countries
are constructs, obscene  
as virginity. i don’t need to remind you
what americans forget: you are standing  
on holy ground. listen
to the subway grates blowing
raspberries at babies. listen to the gaggle
of cars craning their necks.  
remember your time here
expires. don’t look
back now. remember,
you still can’t claim america.