Read an Excerpt
I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy who perched in the branches of the old branch library.
He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,
pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching notes under his own corner patch of sky.
I'd give anything to find that birdy boy again bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon
with his satchel of scrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.
A Few Encounters With My Face
Who is that moonlit stranger staring at me
through the fog of a bathroom mirror
Wrinkles form a parenthesis around the eyes dry wells of sadness at three a.m.
The forehead furrows in a scowl a question mark puzzled since childhood
Faint scrawl of chickenpox and measles broken asthma nights breathing steam
Hair thinning like his grandfather’s all those bald ancestral thoughts
The nose a ram’s horn a scroll as long and bumpy as the centuries
Greed of a Latvian horse thief surprised by the lights
Primitive double chin divided in two a mother and father divorcing
Deep red pouches and black bags a life given to sleeplessness
Earnest grooves ironic blotches secret scars memories medallions of middle age
It would take a Cubist to paint this dark face splitting in three directions
Identify these features with rapture and despair one part hilarity two parts grief
We waited on two sides of the subway tracks:
you were riding uptown and I was heading downtown to a different apartment, after all these years.
We were almost paralyzed, as anxious travelers surged around us in waves,
and then you started to pantomime.
First, you touched your right eye.
Then you palmed your left knee.
Finally, you pointed at me.
I made of a sign of understanding back to you but the train suddenly roared into the station and you disappeared.
From the Hardcover edition.