Sponge-painted in soot the sky all around
and its absence, as if from random roofs
muslin sails searching for a new world.
Strangers’ conversations take on meaning I have no
right to embrace, I don’t tell anyone,
the truth I keep interior, a white rat in the same
maze without solution yet this compulsion
today worrying my trip to Manhattan.
We climb the stairs to the Highline, orange-yellow
bushes in flower; so many times you’ve
taught me to call its name: witch hazel,
Hamamelis, the genus, “together
with fruit.,” as in the simultaneous arrival
of flowers with the maturing fruit of the previous year.
If I could, I’d inhabit this shrub or small tree wearing
each blossom with its four slender exclamations
for petals as long as I could, protecting myself
from making light of this beauty, as if I’d swallowed
the flowers to admit your presence here high
above New York there is love because of you.