I long for nothing more
than to throw myself
into the yawning jaws of the great beast
that is the city.
Fling my arms wide open
and dissolve gladly
on its furred pink tongue.
Its breath smells centuries old, rising
from its ancient belly like smog and dreams
fresh and rancid.
Let it peel my name and my face from my flesh,
gently— unnoticed even by me— and then,
even the flesh from my bones.
Inter them, finally, in its brick
and stone facades,
its broad and narrow sidewalks,
its underground subway stations—
my ribcage the tracks on which its trains
carry their sleepy-eyed cargo East to West,
North to South
and then back again.
I long to be but a dim
and insignificant dust mote
suspended in the sunlight
that sweeps its city streets,
swept along its one-of-a-kind music
— all thrumming traffic
and voices, snagging every so often
around a horn,
a busker’s song,
a lonely pilgrim’s recited
and then quickly forgotten poem.
I will ride the rhythm
and eddies of the city,
rising up into a distant speck
all easy mobility and even easier anonymity
The big city
—a great beast that has followed me ceaselessly for years
—Sometimes, in the off-white dazzle of tropical heat
clamouring noisily between my ears,
beating against my brain
I think I can almost see it:
its hulking side, all grey and brick,
as it turns restlessly in place,
its fur bristling, as if shaking off an errant thought
(of escape; of dissolution and facelessness)
and then— slinking back
like a docile kitten, curling up in my shadow
cast by this distant island’s sun.
Other times it is so close I feel its roar rattling in my chest.