After the ambulances left but
before the sun finally rose above Avenue
C, I walked toward Tompkins Square Park where the heroin-
dependent rockers slept, addled on benches, while
ex-punks huddled in their leather jackets
for the morning was still damp. One of them called out,
Gerry? What was I to do when I saw her, recognized
her hesitant familiar eyes. How could I have
imagined things would turn out this way when I'd call out her name -
Joanna - those sleepless nights of high school &
kept a photo of her deep into college.
Longing has such a sense of history.
Morning was approaching in its colorful coat.
Not once those months of kissing her, had I wakened beside her, but
oh - I'd wanted to. She was thinner & glanced away when I nodded
pigeons surrounded her bench but would take off
quickly with the first sudden movement or when the next squad car
revealed itself in flashers & sirens.
So what did I do? What could I do?
The three five dollar bills folded in my pocket, what
use were they to me? I gave them to her, she who'd once been
victorious I'd felt that first time I kissed her.
We didn't look at each other, nor did we look askance. I thought
of the little
xiphoid syringes she might load with that money. This was my
young black kids with dreadlocks walked by singing
Zion! Take me back to Zion! & I knew I'd never be saved.
From Vanishing Horizon (Anhinga, 2011) by Gerry LaFemina. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.