Today I’m without anchor
without overcoat, without morning commute
eating my lunch on the Staten Island Ferry,
making roundtrips in the heat of the day,
stretching my legs, and then boarding
the same boat that brought me here.
The changed scenery is a thrill
with the sun in my lap, the water at my throat
as I sprawl across the bench, or my irises
contracting as I walk along the synapses
of my neighbors, the day as detailed as an inner ear.
The sea scrapes the old docks, the grinding
as the ferry moves its mass from one island to another;
I am so alive with looking – even the statue turns her torso
to face us, the sky adjusts to every drag and blur.
Around the corner of the corridor, I see myself
of three weeks ago. Summer Pia
behind sunglasses, bag burst with books and scribbles.
Pia looking so young in my old seat
eating chicken salad, dropping lettuce
in her lap and laughing while Fall Pia
looks on in a small yellow scarf.
After the“You?” and “You?” again, I watch Old Pia
with her worn little notebook,
and in the lines she writes, I can see their opposites.
I can see a million decisions and their antecedents,
a steady stream of questioning and pivots.
Pia, I know you.
When the boy beside her waves
his blue arm and hoots, “I can see a shark! I can see his teeth!”
Old Pia swore she saw the teeth too.
And perhaps, she can see me,
New Pia, perched on the rail.
A near, watermark of a Pia
in the brief future,
Pia of the beer garden and the turkey sandwiches.
Pia of the incense, the celebrity sighting.
Pia who tried parting her hair on the other side.
Pia, I am as good looking as you.
I have written more poems, eaten more bowls of instant oatmeal,
given more morning kisses, more flosses, more gargles,
(my teeth are ever-so-much cleaner than yours are).
More dog watching in our corner of the park.
And there are artists you have never heard of, Pia!
Films yet to be released from their shiny canisters.
There is a book right now sitting on your shelf
that you have not read yet,
but I have.
You are the Pia of the almost full notebook,
Pia before the bar revelation,
before the haiku on the back of a deli receipt.
Pia before The Pillow Book
before Baudelaire, before Celan.
Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you? Those pale arms. That arched foot.
You gorgeous being! You don’t even know it,
but I do.
The way your hair smells and your skin itches,
the way your voice gets a little pitch,
your stutters, your slips, your failed sense of direction.
There’s no one else I’d rather ride the ferry with,
even if you cannot sense that I am with you,
even if you did not ask me to be,
so I’ll just hover here
beside the water and recite
Gregory Orr’s “Love Poem” in a whisper
because I know you have it memorized.