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One With the City

Artwork by Isabelle Lu, staff artist

By Enya Goonetilleke

Did you hear?

My friend Shaya was walking down the street last week,

When she vanished through the railway grates.

Or a cop shot her,

Or a junkie jumped her.

Or maybe she got run over,

And is lying spread-eagle on a street corner,

With blood and gutter water pooling in her hair

and someone’s chewing gum stuck to her cheek.

Everyone saw something different.

The police swore that the Fly London across the street reported a disturbance.

My cousin claims "Shaya wasn’t bothering nobody."

But the truth’s all the same:

One minute, she was walking down 15th Street,

Her bare bronze legs shining in the sunset,

The next minute, she was gone.

But she’s not dead.

We never saw her body.

Her brothers searched that street high and low,

They couldn’t even find her purse.

She’s not dead,

She’s somewhere, lurking in the subway catacombs,

Or waiting for a taxi in Times Square.

Maybe she’s buried in between the layers of sidewalk,

Her green eyes fossilized like two gemstones.

Maybe she lives in Central Park,

Sleeping in the soft dirt with daisies growing from her painted toenails.

She’s a traffic light or a stop sign

Or the bench in front of Union Square.

Maybe her lips tint the red slide we used to play on,

And her soft skin, which she’d rub with cocoa butter every night,

Is used to drape taxi seats.

And I don’t care what they say.

Wherever she went or whatever she became,

She’s not dead.

She was absorbed.

She lives within the carnivorous city we call home,

Gliding on its bones,

And pumping blood through its heart.

I don’t care what they say,

She’s too beautiful, too effervescently pure

To be in a casket

Or in the bottom of a ditch.

I know better.

She’s there, somewhere,

Hiding behind the clouds and ducking under the Greyhound buses.

She’s not dead.

She rules this city with the hand of a goddess,

And I feel her in me every day.

She plants seeds in my soul, rooting me to this metropolis,

As she strokes my hair with her invisible fingers

And whispers fragile secrets to me

In a silver voice of honking cars and pigeon coos.

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