If I Could I Would Love To

by Jess Williard

Strange about living in this city are the faces on trains and sidewalks that assume something
of the sky we are under and know nothing about, gray heat that gathers then rises, rotting feet
of park side card players, liars, birds beaten back against the wind. The sky is here. The problem
is I think I’ve seen it already. Or them: dime novels clutched to chests, left-handed wrist watches,
furrowed and hurried or just tired. Aren’t we all on our way anyway? Wasn’t I just in a different
city under an indifferent sky, parsing throngs of faces, a syntax I have tried and failed to correct?
It was near the water outside a city where my mom found a turtle latched to a heron and whaled
on it with a bat of driftwood until the bird was released. I can’t get over that. If I could I would
love to, but clouds keep charging in over the Great Lakes like blind, cherubic priests holding
their collective breath, blinking in unison and waiting for a reason to dismount, a city
to recompense, and the rain wants nothing but to keep bringing you back.

JESS WILLIARD’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Third CoastNorth American ReviewColorado ReviewSouthern Humanities ReviewBarrow StreetLake EffectThe New Orleans ReviewSycamore ReviewBayou MagazineBooth, and other journals. He is from Wisconsin.