As a Sidewalk
You can’t imagine
the grit that comes and goes, wind that blows feet forward and forward,
the stilettos prodding, boots blunt, bare feet padding.
i am carved into destinations. the indents in the center lines of my concrete
branch visibly to doors and crossings. i try to form little welcome mats but they are too
subtle, i guess, to be noticed.
the constant erosion is like breath along my surfaces.
i am glad that no one pays attention to the laws against bicycling on the sidewalks—
i like the deep, firm softness of their tires,
the casual flick of a foot catching balance.
it rains. it snows. i freeze over and am wildly cursed at.
shovels shave me.
the salt stings my bones.
i develop puddles that do not flow, and i try to apologize for things i did not
really intend, like bruised tailbones.
one year, they came to open me up. they tore at my panels, sifted through my inner
workings and then, when I did not willingly part my gravel for them, they brought the
a pipe was leaking. a big one, prestigious, one of the city’s bones.
a friend of mine, really— we ran alongside each other for a few blocks,
directing water, directing society.
they removed a whole section and replaced it with this shiny,
aluminum-steel band that stayed cold all day and scraped at my underneathings.
when they closed me back up, they filled me with the wrong size of gravel. i never really
healed. it's still sore.
it’s not my fault i’m worn, for my age.
it’s not a sin that i stood between them and a friend.
i was young once, and cared to listen.
drug dealings, friendships made and broken,
thieveries, lies, stories and laughter.
four boys would bring guitars, ukuleles, small drums to sing for change
on the corner, legs
sprawled careless and sun-caked
across my fresh pavement. they came so often
sing along, although their words were strange
and i used my own.
i fancied myself a philosopher, then,
and the out-there-kids who lay on me, pressing their ears to the ground hoping for divinity,
sometimes heard my song.
we are dying, i sang, from the second we are made.
we are living, i sang, whether we like it or not.
the only choice we ever need make, i sang, is what to do.
you lie on pavements, i’ll ponder out loud for you.
the kids liked my rhymes, when they could make me out.
they called me “trippy.”
i don’t know what that means.
i am thinning. this
winter-shovel-salting, these footstep exfoliations, these
frost heaves year after year are no good. they leave sores tossed
and scattered over me like zits or scars.
they grind chewing gum into my pores
and sprinkle cigarette butts like sweat.
drunks and lazy dog owners feel no guilt for leaving me defiled.
i grow more dirty and twisted than is generally appealing.
young lovers don’t sit on my curbs anymore.
kids still play music, but they have a fancy new bench and i can no longer hear their silly
i’m afraid to admit that i’ve forgotten how to sing along.
the metal prosthetic of the pipe underneath me
rusts and itches. i am afraid that the rust will create another leak and they’ll bring those
awful jackhammers back.
i am afraid that any day i’ll be replaced by smooth, flawless new concrete
that will not hug feet or know how to pull people forward or harmonize with the sun, a
smooth young thing that won’t know all the ways.
i am afraid that i am obsolete.
i try to keep the ice and cold from seeping up into the soles of ugg boots. i try to be
young lovers no longer sit sun-caked on my curbs.
children draw on me with chalk in the summer. they write, “look up.”
i cannot. i am only the in-between now.
more and more of me becomes loose dust and grit,
skating low over the streets, abandoning this body
for the wind.