Sequence Across Golden Gate Bridge

Ariel Z.

Ariel Z.

over 4:36 pm stale coffee and orange wedges,
my dad reminisces about a childhood
song he never learned. he sings half of the song
through closed lips. at least you know it now, i say,
as if that could heal the staff lines on his back
that his father made. i regret trying to understand him.
my hands busy like traffic jams and a city
trying to forget itself. i begin to perform autopsy
on a orange, separating spongy white tissue from
the orange fat. i want the world in its nakedness,
inflamed and soaking up light. i want the world full
-y clothed, thick peeled and un-markable.
after dinner, i say, let's go see the bridge.
my dad, who has a symphony in his ear only
he can hear, gets up to grab his coat and leaves.
i'd like to think, like shostakovich and all the other
composers torn from their sleep, he inscribed
his own initials into the music. the aftermath

of rain left the powerlines scooping up San
Francisco in handfuls of deserted buildings
and washed out graffiti. spray paint and
poetry run down the streets. i try to catch them
all, until i realize my hands, too, are neon pink, orange,
and fading. the city, an aerosol, waiting
to be shaken up. a man with butterfly skin

opens his arms to the sky and shouts,
rainbow! look, rainbow!
he traces his baton across horizons, past
where the rainbow ends. i bet he could see more
colors than we could. we are flushed

to sea. i follow behind my dad
as we press our belly buttons deeper
into the city and watch the earth beneath
our feet melt. the crisis counseling sign screams
blue. the skyline undresses itself. how many autopsies
does San Francisco perform each day?
is the only way to know a home,
to know its bodies? is to know,
to grieve? we collect our valved hearts
over the sea drain and strain them with
our bare hands. we violently shove the pulp
back into our chests. we believe a safety net
keeps us safe. we let slip as fast as water.

but remember, there is poetry in these waters.
these waters do not forget. they are calling for a flood.
San Francisco perches in my backbone, and sleeps
and sleeps and sleeps. i am waiting for the rumble
to wake her up.

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