OBJECT OF THE CITY – Poem by J.Gawrych

homeless Leila in Copley Square sits
surrounded by carts of black bags
meanwhile Mr and Mrs are standing on the steps
of the Boston Public Library in their thousand something threads
embarking on their new life, their marriage.

I am smoking a cigarette on the steps of the library
living through the BMXers that pull wheelies before me,
meanwhile brown toothed, mid-thirties man is asking me questions
(despite my obvious disinterest exemplified in the headphones booming music into my ears.)

i decide to humor him and pull out an earbud.
“you’re cute, what’s your name?” he asks.
I feel objectified, this being the second time in the day that something like this has happened.
i don’t want to be cute, i don’t want to be anything.
“i don’t have a name” I say.
He apologizes and tells me he is “fucked up”
it is midday, 5:19pm.
i think – “yes, yes you are fucked up” and leave.

i watch a mother point out the John Hancock Tower to her daughter
and compare the little girl’s wonder to my own years ago.
i feel the city
remind myself of the fact that i am HERE

i wander to Starbucks by the Arlington T-Stop.
waiting in line, a man with electric blue eyes asks me the time.
I pat my pockets and remember my phone is at the Sprint store for repair,
to be picked up in an hour.
I explain this to the man and say, “I’m sorry” afterwords.
He says his phone is dead and “I’ve been late all day.”
I nod. I feel so unable to talk and there is a guilt in me for it.
I have a lot of guilt in me.

While waiting for my Mocha Crumble Frappe he asks me
“How tall are you?”
What a strange question, I think
but I tell him that I’m 5’4
“I think.”

He grabs a straw for his coffee and as he’s passing me on his way out he says
“I ask because I’m a writer. That’s why I noticed.”
I am completely caught off guard. I found one of my own in the city!
I want to tell him, “Me too”
Me too, I’m a writer!
but I’m nineteen, and I have nothing to show for it, so instead I say with a smile
“No that’s fine, I appreciate it.”
He walks out and I feel regret for not saying more.
I look at my shoes, scuffed and torn from the sidewalks, wondering
what he will write, if anything, about me.
I watch him jog away outside, laptop bag bouncing at his hip,
and I smile to myself, despite myself.

this, i think quietly
this is what it is all about.

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