The Seagull That Melted

by Kevin Pilkington

I know every inch of this city
like it’s my right hand. I found
early on the quickest way to my wrist
is the crosstown bus from the upper
east side of my thumb. My great sense
of direction didn’t help when I got
lost in a novel and couldn’t find
my way out until the last page.
The plot moved over ten years and
it was the first time I held a little
over a decade in my hands and didn’t
get tired. The final chapters tried
to convince me there is an afterlife.
It didn’t and it has always been 
a concept I just don’t get. Of course
how could it when I never understood
how Johnny Hartman wasn’t more
famous, when every song he sings
sounds like a warm sweater or even
why proof is often found in the pudding.

I notice there is a seagull sitting
on the window ledge like whipped cream
on a slice of apple pie. It’s a reminder
the city is an island and the gull confused
this heat wave with a wave on the East River
then melted, dripping onto the sidewalk
before it could fly away. I guess I notice
more now ever since I decided to see
instead of just look. Things move so fast
my younger brother is older than I am now.
Before I get too down and stare like an empty
storefront COVID left on its way to another
surge, I’ll go for a walk when the day cools 
off later and make sure to go out of my way
and head towards the old tenement where
the Marx brothers lived as kids and stroll by
to remind myself the best jokes are always 
old, fast and in black and white.

Kevin Pilkington is on the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of ten collections of poetry, the latest is Playing Poker With Tennessee Williams which was published by Black Lawrence Press. His second novel, Taking On Secrets was recently published by Blue Jade Press.