New York City

By | 25 June 2023

Living with my wife in Queens,
we watched news and I tried to fail
at prose, as I was taught,
until something better gripped
my trembling hands.

The faces of my MFA peers
were framed in sorrow.
We had Friday
happy hours on Zoom
which meant little
but was necessary.

Hospitals overflowed,
boxed images
of refrigerated trailers outside
white walled institutions
held me.

Seven pm.
The window opens.
I bang on a pot
with a wooden spoon.
I cheer and cheer
and am reminded:

Grandma was taken
as a child to Mornington Island
mission on Lardil Country.

That evening
after hugging my wife tightly
and saying and hearing
the words we both needed
to continue on…

I dreamt over oceans.
I dreamt of my family.

It is seven pm.
The window opens.
I bang and bang on the pot.
In the rhythm
thud, thud, thud, thud,
my cheers become a mantra
of pleas to my dead grandmother
whom I never met.

Over the echoes of fear and gratitude
circling that too large city
my strained voice is but a hoarse whisper
in the fading spring light:

Help me fail, Nan.
Please, please, please,
help me fail, Nan.

Help me fail and fail again.

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