It is the first day of summer, and it feels like it
to the man walking home from work—
not just heat, but something electric in the breeze,
the swishing of skirts on bare thighs,
whistles of shirtless bicycle messengers,
dogs high in buildings barking to one another.
At home he pops open a beer, sinks into the couch
and thinks back to the summer he moved to the city:
He would throw himself into the night
like a boy into a great wave, fill himself
with beer and see where he’d wind up.
Once he went home with a Wall Street stock broker,
a petite woman who kicked off her shoes,
headed for the refrigerator and came back
with a syringe and a rubber tube tied to her arm.
It wasn’t until the edges of the pool in the spoon were bubbling
that she remembered her manners and offered him some.
He found himself waking up midday in other boroughs—
one time in New Jersey with no shoes—
and would make his way home by bus or train
like a swimmer, pulled out by the undertow,
stroking back to shore.
He still feels a smoldering in his blood
on an evening like this, but by now he knows
the odds of going out and getting lucky.
He hears the stabbing of high heels on the floor above,
pictures women across the city readying themselves,
a thousand keys turning in tumblers simultaneously,
locking him in. He zaps on the TV.
The Nature Channel: somewhere in the Dakotas
they’ve found a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“Dinosaurs,” a scientist explains, “are the greatest
success story in the history of the planet.”
Men and women pick at the landscape with dental tools
as the scientist speaks in millions of years—
this million and that million. “If this
is the age of the Earth,” he says, holding out
an arm for a time line, “then dinosaurs lived
from here to here”—he points from his shoulder
to his wrist—”whereas the age of man
is equivalent to the tip of my fingernail.”
The man on the couch gets up, goes to the window.
At nine o’clock on the longest day of the year,
there is still light behind the jagged scaffold of the city.
He will need a way to fall asleep. There’s more
beer in the fridge, an unopened fifth of scotch,
pills behind the bathroom mirror, NyQuil.