I am at the alpha and omega
Where endless subway tunnels
Twist and turn beneath cement and asphalt,
Forming veins in the bedrock,
Nervous systems of rattling metal.
An arrow points, “This way to the 123.”
Through the tunnel I go,
Following the signs down a corridor
Lined with fluorescent bodegas
Selling Virginia Slims and Cool Blue Gatorade.
Mannequins with matte eyes and screen-printed hearts
Watch an electric wheelchair speed by,
Joystick cutting right and left, past a notice
That reads: “Not Wheelchair Accessible”.
A man in ragged clothes rattles his cup as he holds the
Glass gates open for a baby stroller.
The child bobs upwards into the dermis of the city while
The mother looks on reproachfully, as if to say,
“There are easier places to live.”
But I do not follow.
Instead, I chase the mosaic that glimmers in the tunnels,
Hunks of rainbow colors, reds and blues,
Dancing like notes on sheet music.
The song is whatever the day brings,
For tomorrow there be dragons.
There are only so many faces
In Mother Nature’s repertoire.
I saw one years ago who looked
Just like a man I met once in Venice
When I wore navy capris with
My hair curled and brushed
Into an Aquanet waterfall.
I had been sitting in a wobbly chair
At the edge of the Grand Canal where
The water sloshed onto the cobblestones.
Through my satellite sunglasses,
I watched the Campari sun dip into the horizon.
And he handed me a menu.
Che cosa prende da bere?
I drew on my cigarette and studied his face.
The angles were familiar, rectangular planes
That caught the failing light,
Which bred a choking deja vu.
His eyes were different though – brown, not blue.
And his hair was more black than brown.
His head swiveled towards another table
As he fumbled with a small notepad,
And waived goodbye to a couple,
Who parted red-faced and loose-limbed.
This was not the same man I’d once known.
That man had firm lines and a hard mouth,
Marks of someone who had lost it all,
Or had everything to lose,
During an age of bronze shields, vengeful gods
Burning corpses and fields of yellow wheat.
This face, my modern, Italian face,
He was carefree and filled with music.
And I liked him better.
Vorrei un vino blanco.