Glass Apartments (For Janelle)
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Those houses that I pass at evening with keyhole windows

seem as other worlds. Easy when they’re decorated differently;

the one with the void white and modern tables I know is a fad

and across the wall the very not my circus Slavic clutter of wood and paper.

I never drank with your family but I heard your apartment felt like home.

Here on the summer stoops it smells like dirtwater kicked up by rain,

step across and we’re in a spot elsewhere, a compartment-place

that tastes like dust and lemon oil. This is how I was taught

some apartments are built bigger with many rooms we cannot have,

but when I think like that I imagine wanting more rooms than

the measly few hundred I’ve stood in. I want to stand in every room.

The year I met you, you kept warm a shelter, an almost-room

with mural and graffiti call your mother ask her about Lilith

every person who took the bridge had to pass. I learned from you

the thing that breaks the illusion is the windows. They stop most sound

but the light reflecting off a face still gets through. Walk down streets

and look in the barred glass, soundlessly see me cooking reading or

undressing for bed, or how there’s an ugly building by the library and

when the curtains are drawn naked bodies stand in the air hovering

by bedside tables, and we all hate this glass building but it’s honest

because nobody is anywhere someone else is not, or not in view of.

I myself have never been somewhere you weren’t already,

mimicking the motions of you carving a home out of air.

The more apart the more I notice other people, say how from

my room’s lightway I see right into a stranger’s box-clutter closet

across the inner cavity of the block. At least I assume a stranger

but I can’t know if we haven't imagined each other before, maybe I’d

set them a coffee while you did dishes, at the almost-room we kept.

Looking down from the rooftop mourning doves take as claim,

the gardens I used to feel were a different outdoors than the New York

of street-strutting now look like cupped hands holding air

in the one atmosphere. Ironic the name of apartments.

We could think the houses are not worlds but the converse,

a way, a hole for sun to pour in, a miracle glimpse of a place

with different rules, the land where we live or

the land you have gone to; my world is not apart from the things I don’t touch

but the cities collapse in so that you and I are swimming in a great ether,

where no place is any place but who we can perceive: the city The City

and the river The River, whose water looks up close like breaking glass

but from a distance like satin.

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