It is ten o’clock in the evening,
and I have just finished reading
Bauby’s small kite of a memoir.
The winds of Madison Square Park
have been strong enough to keep the toy afloat,
and now, as its last blinked words are read, the
canvas, cross, and carefully knotted tail
fall carelessly to my feet.
As I look up, I see an art installation,
some decapitated Madonna without child,
French royalty or the American poor.
To my left the carnival lights
of a local dive are pulling in travelers
that leave with milkshakes, burgers, and
a sense of the authentic.
Perhaps more authentic, is the
elderly black man who holds the bench
beside mine like a paperweight,
a bottle cap, or a lost shoe.
He is searching through his belongings
with a flashlight that reminds
me of my grandfather, and I wonder
if he would be as curious as me,
curious why the black man has a shopping cart
and no receipts and a pregnant suitcase with
no ticket out of this New York park.
A mosquito bites my thumb and I
shoo it away, thinking about how
Bauby held on so mummified but
feeling everything. I turn again to
my homeless neighbor, wondering
how he does the same.