In the Upper-west side
my friend has an apartment.
It is a postage stamp
on this envelope of a city,
a grape in this large horn-of-plenty,
but it is hers, and she lives
in it unapologetically.
The light wood floors
cover the ground like
some oaken quilt,
some unsolvable geometry lesson,
or the tessellating rugs of Alhambra.
The walls are vanilla pudding
and the silver radiator drops from the ceiling
like some bizarre utensil
with which to eat it.
Outside the open window,
the purchased symphony of the city plays.
Nigerian nannies push small white
children in rattling strollers.
Students at a nearby school laugh and scream
and lay the foundations of the edificial lives.
The busses and taxis honk and squeal down Broadway.
Wind shakes the leafless branches of this city’s
Somewhere, church bells chime
with the hour—the little choir, a small
reminder of the God who still dwells
in these mechanical places.
And a woman, long out of the limelight,
competes with this metropolitan orchestra.
She walks up and down vocal scales
as a mezzo-soprano. Her vibrato vibrates
this small, forgotten opera house,
and in our warm vanilla box seats,
we close our eyes, lean our heads back
our prima donna’s most devoted fans,
tasting small thimbles of joy
in this ocean of a city.