I stood in the bookstore reading poems of friends in magazines. I thought of a girl in Brooklyn busy putting together a portfolio. I ease-dropped on a girl complaining about another girl who wasn’t doing her work & the guy whose ear she was talking into sent messages to his mouth that said, That’s okay. We can handle that. That’s easy to rectify. The girl winced at the word “we” realizing that she would have to do the work the other did not want to do. I imagined the other was prettier, had nicer lips, or better shoes or was the daughter of someone semi-famous. I could only find one magazine with my name it. I decided I would feel better if I looked for books I knew would not be on the bookshelf. I indeed felt better that I was not the only one left out or uninvited. I grew restless & left the bookstore.
The breeze made bumps of my forearms. I put on my sunglasses & stared into the hotel with the big vases and leaning oriental lilies. I watched the diners lift glasses of light & laugh. I pulled out my pockets. They were empty. I thought of falafel. I thought of overdrawn accounts & the word insufficient. I thought of responsibility & continued to go. I thought if it’s coming that I’m going to greet it one foot in front of the other. Face forward. I checked my posture in the window. My allergies were getting worse. There were bumps on the back of my neck. I passed another bookstore & continued to go. I saw a man with two arms & only one hand. I stopped at a light. I watched them on their iphones. I watched them in their cars. I walked some more, my mind still restless.
For the second time today I saw a girl I dated for a month or maybe three. Her job is to walk dogs. She was not walking the same dog. For the second time I did not call out her name. We passed on opposite sides of the sidewalk. I passed a food stand and thought of spicy mushrooms & humus. I thought of the Pakistan place & the two entrees for 6 dollars. On the corner a guy was tapping away on his laptop while the photographer kept taking pictures of a gazelle shifting from one hip to the other. Cars were honking & coffee scents escaped the café. I continued to go.
I passed a man & woman dressed in business attire seriously contemplating a menu on the corner of Lafayette & Prince. I saw a friend on the parallel side of the street. She looked around me then spun left & left. I did not shout after her. I looked at the sky. Pain from a swollen node shot through me. Make it lighting & take it straight to the heart. Right here while standing I will face you-- yet the pain subsided & I continued to go. I got to the next corner to see the boys fresh from work head into a sports bar. Tonight is the playoffs- two teams face elimination. I thought about that word: elimination. I rolled it around on my tongue as I passed the pet shop. I thought of plantains. I checked my pockets. They were still empty. I found myself inserting my key into a lock. I found myself ascending the stairs & hearing the tenant in apartment 3 speaking Spanish. I bet she’s making meatballs. After entering my door I looked into the fridge & in the cabinets. I thought I should eat. Then I found myself slipping my body underneath a sheet. My throat still itching. I thought I should eat & I put my head on a pillow.