by A. Palmer
I see a girl folded up on the pavementóshe sits upright and her skirt spills in the wind, ripples, and the breath fades from her.
I wait for her to stand, kick her feet out and slap her thin thighs, unexpectedly, and call out to the trees and their marginal leaves flickering like fritillary wings and the spaces between that are the sky: Bella fica! My fruit is a fig! and I hear her wry laugh, somehow light in the lowering darkness.
We found the porch, the one with the orange light and the laurels laid on the front stepsó
The back courtyard had red and orange tulips, the kind of grape muscari that is pale lavender at the top and round, bubbly purple as the bloom thickens; there are the daffodils and the white narcissus, peaching in the sun. Here, itís too late to collect greens from the dandelions for salads, too late to see the leaves as scraps of gentle felt, rolled up, and itís already dusty outside. Iím looking at it from the porch, sitting on the leaning chair next to the rolled-up oriental rug from which I expect the heavy moths and laces of its pattern to emerge, shake off clinging fibers and twine around the steps. Looking around this courtyard faced with porches, the stained glass and the bottles on windowsills sit calmly, a still chime and one window with shelves and stacks of plants are awake. I saw someone visiting that house today when I was sitting in the sun by the parking meter, one hobbling and another woman knocking. Maybe she was coming home, or visiting, pale as the potted plants sipping winter sun.
He calls to me from the kitchen that itís ready, but I canít look to his voice inside because the sun is glancing off the overhanging eves and glittering onto my arm, because I remember last night and I canít stand the city three days in a row. Iím sick here and Iíd rather listen to the sun.
Iím still sitting on the back porch, of a different quality than the wide cement and tiny ivy fingers on the front porch, and I can see down the alley. The aimless rustle that punctuates the unrelenting, plaintive static low of the city returnsóthe papers are brushing along the brick and a pigeon flaps up on the rise of its crescendo.