Pledge

by Roger Reeves


I, Roger Reeves, hereby pledge that I will not come back
to this city, if this city will not come back to me.

I leave the children waving their flags and wrists
at a dark sky, without worrying about the coconut tree
dropping its wintered fruit upon their heads.

I leave the man with his one leg turned backward
to walk this street twice as pure contradiction.

I leave the heron on the roof, the dachshunds
scrambling over the cobblestone in their black
patent-leather shoes, and the flies to open-wide

and swallow as much melon as they can before evening comes
and that same melon is between my lips.

I leave puddles at the end of driveways
and in them, to float, tiny fronds of a flower
that I cannot name but the woman beside me can.

I leave the fresh bread in wire baskets and the old women
to point at each roll they wish to place in their mouths.

I leave the opera house, its green domes draped in gold,
the cobbler and his glue, the mechanic and his belly,
and yes, I leave rain to wash every bare foot in this city.

I leave the children’s thirst on the metro
next to a pink pen that no longer holds ink.

I leave the numbers by which I know this city,
its epistemologies and apartheids, its mornings,
its slips of paper, its slivers and its seeds,

its dry floors and short showers, its roosters
that cannot distinguish between the blue of morning

and the blue of night. I leave the coffee spilled
onto the floor of the bus, your hand between my legs—
this will surely leave a stain.


Read Roger Reeves’ Schistosoma mansoni and Thinking of Anne Frank in the Middle of Winter

Or read more poetry in our current issue