I will take the 123rd Boulevard eastbound train,
get off at the last stop,
walk up the steep 123-flight stairs,
three interspersed landings, each grimier than the companionway.
Walk past the archway with musty dark corners,
floors noisily kissing dusty soles,
past the crosswalk with bamboo-bordered stalls,
the hobo holding a beaten cardboard sign, “Help me with a dollar,”
couldn’t help translating to naira,
“Help me with N575.”
The beach sand stretches—a grainy blanket carrying a motley crew of bodies,
prostrate, supine beet-red shins and torsos, hats atop sunglasses,
below some upright, some misshapen
and lopsided kiosks.
Another beach cuts to mind,
thousands of miles away—a cluster of lily-white pulsating limbed,
eyes squeezed shut, mouths open, “Halleluyah.”
Agama lizard bopping heads,
rending where blue meets sands.
I walk past the inhabitants of this till they are specks,
and my calves ache
to claim my spot—without neighbors and footprints.
Gather seashells for a time.
Rolling waves crash,
bubbles become effervescent,
foams infuse sand,
soak the edges of ripped, once-black jeans,
salt assails tongue,
toes sink in mud,
the dwarf star sinks into the blankets of dusk,
feathery breeze bestows kisses,
shore creeps closer,
grains of sand pinch my back,
momentum gathering wind whistling the call of sirens,
waves’ gentle tugs morph into jealous lovers.
Perhaps the brine would cleanse my pores of contrarian desires
my parents and pastor speak.
Make me clean.
Restore that which was lost in the gap that brought me forth;
which bequeathed monthly bleeds
and twin molds as breasts—the body of another.
In the gap—two souls switched places—each trespassing.
she searches for hers.
If the waves send me forth
to where I jumped ship,
will I recognize mine,
will it be home, a glove—a second skin if I did?
Will it be a cage to a restless spirit?
Will it bear imprints of its former—sullied and bruised as she clawed;
swung edges of shards?
Will it bear scars like mine,
wrists with half-moon beaded stitches,
attempts to deconstruct who her spirit says she is?
Perhaps I will have to break into it
develop bunions and corns—repair a leaking roof,
broken window panes and locks.
Will she find me?
Will I find her?
In the gap.
Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels