Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

After the Show

by Christopher Dollard

“Arriving from always, you’ll go away everywhere.”

– Rimbaud


Pouring out of the crowded theater, the sidewalks

packed with kids like me in dark jeans

and t-shirts, I weave out of the crowd to start

home, slip down a flight of stairs

to the subway where I dig through my pockets

to find a MetroCard or cash, but nothing

but an empty wallet, a dead cell phone, nothing

but the echoed moan of saxophone on tile

walls beyond the platform, where the last train

rumbles away into the dark. Shit, I think, knowing

I have to walk drunk across Queens, and I barely know

which way so I head east on Roosevelt Boulevard

toward dawn, toward Flushing, my grandparents

still sleeping in their apartment. The streets

streak away in all directions over land

once used to dump ash, now Corona and Astoria,

the place my dad, as a boy, almost blew himself up

with a homemade flashbomb in a neighborhood behind

the vast junkyards beneath twin pillared highways,

the blots of fading colors, crushed, rusting cars in starlight.

Among the leaves and litter in a small burned patch

of grass there is always something made of glass,

asphalt, brick, concrete, jewel, fluted stone.

Something made of rubber and lightning.

Yesterday, before the show, I lay for an entire day

under the Brooklyn Bridge just to feel the weight of stasis,

and now I follow a bridge over a polluted creek,

past Citi Field and the parking lot that buried Shea Stadium

where my dad and his friends snuck into games,

and as the rising sun begins to gild the tops

of distant trees, I see the park where he played

manhunt and flew kites, and a few blocks away

the alley where my mother practiced the accordion

with her father. But how could I know them then?

It’s the same bus line, the same subway

colliding us together, the same path walking home

and when I step off the bridge

onto the wakening streets of Flushing

I see the long, silver glint of the train

pushing out of the tunnel and above the rooftops

and further, the steely green arches of Throgs Neck

and Whitestone, further, the sun-tipped spires,

the thunderous jets lifting off from LaGuardia,

but here the asphalt laid beneath their feet

and mine, here the concrete stoop

and brick tenement, the child’s bedroom window

that overlooks a fig tree

and a slice of distant skyline.