on the corner of Madison and Wells,
a ghost with a gray cotton tee and tattered jeans
saw my red lace dress and started deer hunting.
he wasn’t timid, only lanky, and gripped the ground
like a staggered gymnast. ma’am, could i trouble you
for a twenty? you know, i bet you have a twenty in your purse.
it was dark and it was only the start and in the City of Wind,
i stood beneath the elevated train tracks and counted backwards
from a number that doesn’t exist, waiting for his smoke to fade.
i’ve never been a magician, never been good at vanishing acts,
but once, i spoke honey to disappearing flesh. in a city whose
tallest skyscraper is 1,451 feet, there is a man who parks himself
across the street from Union Station and feeds his friend
named Addiction. i made him a turkey-swiss on wheat,
didn’t wait to watch him eat, and marched across Chicago
from bus stop to bus stop attempting to prove resilience;
i didn’t fool anyone. see, in a city of 3 million beating chests,
it only takes so much to lose yourself, to lose track
of which exact sidewalk crack you whispered a secret into,
to forget the number of ways you can eat a hot dog or listen
to Sinatra. have you been to the House painted Blue?
how does a city with too much red paint teach its children
the color wheel? our children may never learn the color wheel.
the street bleeds so brilliantly crimson, it’s as if our pigeons clipped
their own wings. Chicago’s favorite word is cyclical; we have grown
to envelope its impossible vocabulary and lick it sealed with repetition.
the sun never sets, only trades places with a gray sky,
dirty tee and filthy jeans and deer carcass on Madison Street.
Chicago: hustles for the good of the hustle, an endless face with
deep-set eyebrows and sly smile, the promise of forgiveness bellowing
from its creases, the kind of air only home lets you breathe.