She fell in love not just with a city,
but with the idea of cities, as she wandered
foreign streets alone and happy, nothing to do
but stroll and stare after business meetings ended.
She sat at cafés, drank wine, wandered museums,
regarded the river flowing inevitably.
Though she still turned heads
walking down the street, this too would pass. Not caring,
she knew she lusted after great cities, their topography
and vastness. She wanted skyscrapers, subways, hotels,
slums, zigzag of exterior fire escapes seen from a subway
hurtling tunnel to tunnel, glass elevators rocketing upward
over hotel lobbies.
Alone, she entered
restaurants across Europe, found the caressing eyes
of Dutch waiters and German train conductors’ voices
lovely, but they did not induce the rapture
she was looking for. It came from subway maps
written in Cyrillic, barges floating down rivers
past basilicas, going in and out of train stations,
airports, metros, taxis, her passport stamped
again and again, until she became someone else.
from Sending Messages Over Inconceivable Distances (copyright 2000),
first published in the Clark College Poetry Prize Annual
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