for Trish Sewell and MM
What if we stayed up all night?
This was long years before Seoul
Tokyo, beloved Kyoto
singing Daijobu! with the genki boys
down on Kawaramachi-dori
down by the hot coffee machines.
What if we walked the city?
This, after years walking
the long browed hills of the north
only the starfields above us
far away, like the spangled rest of the world.
What if we followed the night? so we stepped out
scuffed down April-grey sidewalks
creatures of northern spring, our thrift
store trench coats, Army and Navy sneakers
hands in pockets like New Romantics
but we were cold, not cool.
In Little Italy, we dared Tra Amici
hunting gelato, authentic flavour
felt the true, deep, smoky closure
around each table, these men
who owned this hour in this place.
In time, we wended back to the Bay
Station, empty now with the last train sleeping
don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’ we sang
hooting ironically, admiring the shine
of tiles in orange, grey, hard blue, too quiet.
What if we go home for tea? so we did.
Back to his place, my sister and i, like
Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy perhaps
we each held something tight from that night
something we each let go, this place
not wide awake, not a world city, just a dusty
prairie gathering of souls, those awake
contemplating the far off spangle of other worlds.
Here, it was enough to drink jasmine tea
not like any other song or story, just three friends
each cupping a warm round
serving to connect us to every conspirator ever,
and to none. We were just kids, hungry for life,
satisfied with green and flowering water
and the cheap light through blue and white
crockery, none the less mysterious for its low price.
See, he said, you can see light
through the pattern; it’s meant to mimic grains of rice.
We owl-nodded, mesmerised
and comforted by patterns
in pale blue, like every night before or since.