For David Parent, 1947-1990
Longer than I thought, the walk
Across Houston, through Seward Park
To a part of Chinatown I’d never seen.
It was September. Blue milk spilled from sky
To street, and lights were sparking on.
I don’t remember where
We meant to go, or who was leading whom.
Tarnished sea bass gasped in window tanks,
Slid their bellies in nervous shimmies up
The glass, losing scales, mouthing
Breathless O’s, then flipped
Back into the crowded dark,
To let the others have a go.
I watched you eat
And paid for it
In a restaurant where in the windows
Ducks hung by their necks on hooks, plucked,
All flesh, eyeless heads bent sideways
In attitudes of shame.
By the time you finished, it was dark.
Leaves under streetlamps fanned from branches
Over shadows splayed and swaying, cards
Held in a nervous hand. I meant to leave you then,
But you were talking
And I had no one at home.
Nancy Bevilaqua is the author of Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter (CreateSpace, 2014), A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 (CreateSpace, 2013) and Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days (CreateSpace, 2012). Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Tupelo Quarterly, Juked, MadHat Lit, Apogee, Menacing Hedge, here/there, Construction, Atticus Review, Kentucky Review, Iodine, and other journals. Nancy worked as a caseworker and counselor for people with AIDS in New York City in the late 1980s/early 1990s. She now lives in Saint Augustine, Florida with her son Alessandro.
This poem originally appeared in Holding Breath.