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The Kingdom


ISSUE:  Spring 1993
Long afternoons in bed, we loved
to talk about the woman
on the el, remote
as a rabbit and that intense,
who froze at every stop
until the train
leapt up and knocked us back.
But she’d
lunge forward in her seat,
pedal in a fury
we never biked with, even uphill
or after dark, while the thing wheezed
and clanked and roared on
to the next station.
She’d ease as the speed let up,
sucking air like a swimmer, shrinking down
to her curious deadpan.

Our room floated then, nearly
out its window
at anything so strange, your arm relaxed,
cool across my belly.
We’d think of her—that woman
wild again, that
whole train back, rattling off
its here and here and henceforth: Lincoln Avenue, Armitage,
Oak Street’s dazzling deadend beach.
Not ours, of course.
Of course, hers. Or so
she thought, glaring ingrates at us once
in some station’s high-dive calm,
enobling herself
for the next great surge.

An unmade bed for days, that bed,
dusk settling like sugar turning a water glass
sweet and murky. We thought of her
a lot, the way we wondered
everything: not love exactly, not that, more
what that woman saw, say,
when released, she
looked down at her kingdom—
sure, those obvious streets, but such alleys,
glittering and twisting. . . .

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