If Night You Were a City

I would return to you in a jacket of gold leaves 
drawn tight

against the city wind 
whipping around corners through button holes over

cobbled streets park lanes 
cordoned-off barbarian herds

of steel and glass and concrete ground zero for crowds 
of absence. We’d lift off beyond the brick

toward choked stars, moons outshined by neon 
and by anxious day, moons perched on dark spires

golden lions
we’d wrap our naïve wings around

to embrace the artifice of it all 
and the reality: the heat here is unbearable

and I miss the need to be warm, that need to look 
forward to nights alone with you with no morning on our minds

no time 
no need to claw through

restaurants packed with bridge and tunnel drunk 
on the filth and the beauty.

For here
there is no comparison

no autumn as autumn no snow to justify 
a hot drink or a fat meal the fish is delicious

and the beer even better but not the same. 
Some say the grass

is greener as if it’s law 
and more

that I try to recreate 
metropolis each time a baobab drops a beetle

to flee every time winter floods the sand 
to mute the night—

boats eclipsing the mainland sprawl 
trading with another language transformed before my ears:

tell me how you lived
your dream and I will tell you who you are 

every night, every single night and with a wingspan 
I resurrect in a cold sweat

and off in the distance 
there are drums

drums beating the island
like drums and outside the window an unexpected laugh

drums in concert
with the percussive horn

of the ferry to you.
There’s nothing romantic about this

nothing absolute I am reminded of
everything that went wrong everything that went right

and when I wake
if I wake, may the flash not wax

our feathers
may it not melt our wings

Copyright © 2024 by Adam Wiedewitsch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 1, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.