Last night I died of old age,
Punctuated my own death sentence with a period.
But today the rain
Makes my skin sigh shipwrecks
So I swallow wet atoms in
And I become Adam again
Alone at the beginning.
So I take in two parts oxygen
And set smoke to serpent skin
And I cough out Eve on Christmas in Eden—
My best impression of New York December.
“This used to mean so much more,” I say,
“These starry sidewalks, these swollen streets.”
I hail a taxi and squeeze her hand to show I’m still alive.
“You look serene like Sunday,” she says, “are you scared?”
No, I say, weeks always end like this.
No, I say, the weak always end like this.
I’m sweating candles in the summertime.
Her Father kisses my forehead.
My eyes are act five curtains.
King Lear sits beside the bedside.
He whispers iambics,
“Certainly I’m sorry that men must sleep,
For then dreams discover what the heart still keeps.”
My tongue is stayed, Michelangelo’s David.
And to think I used to write such pretty things.
In the backseat of the cab hands fall into hands,
And I find her identity in her fingerprints.
“This used to mean so much more,” she says,
“These snowy silences, these smokestack skylines.”
The meter bleeds red eights like broken clocks.
Her eyes are sapphire sequins in a fir tree fountain,
I am an abandoned ice rink in Chicago winter—
Our best impression of New York December.
I’ve been dying of old age for ages.
This is a death sentence survived by semicolons.
I am a windowsill above Washington Square Park.
And when it starts to snow I take in two parts oxygen
And I cough out a curtain call on New Year’s evening—
This is my best impression of something with meaning.
– BRIAN ROWEN
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