(sitting on an urban park bench)

she resembled a grandma doll

with dried apple for head, staring eerily

from its perch on a shelf. wild on her head, her hair had

turned white and was stained yellow,

like gauze left on a wound too long. her clothes, old, musty

like air blowing from an abandoned building.

            her orthopedic shoes tap tap tap keeping pace

with an endless day.  the river slapped past

her tireless gaze.

she watched paddle boats slosh the water, then her attention

shifted to the birds pecking the cement. she tossed dried bread,

scattering birds toward international flags: Italy, Lithuania,

Poland. and maybe she thought of her home land or a distant war

she had witnessed or maybe her entire life had been spent in this same


her gaze sailed across the water          to the lights of the city

            slowing creeping to life, like spring

vines on a trellis covered in old growth. neon lights gave

new vitality to old buildings and cheapened them, like plastic flowers

on an old lady’s hat.               but her eyes continued.

she saw far past the tall buildings and the cracked sidewalks and the car choked streets. far past: to her old neighborhood. to her childhood. to memories buzzing like street lamps. to any where else.

she stood from the bench, tossing one last handful of crumbs, then retreated

from the growing darkness. she crossed the park, then was lost

from sight.  she trailed shadows as the street lamps painted

the sidewalks with white chalk.

and the rock doves pecked the pavement clean with their beaks, click, click, click,

like her fading footsteps.

she walked

the opposite way of her gaze.

                       and had been looking for something other than she had been given.

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