James Cihlar: Twin Cities

This city park sign tells me
Land that once was the highest point
Is now the lowest,

Just as where there once were trees
There now are lakes,
And in a corresponding spot across the river,
Where there once were lakes,
There now are trees.
Curtainless windows at night

Show the clear-cut inscapes
Of once old buildings,
Now white angles and recessed lighting.

On the freeway I passed an old-fashioned RV,
The kind I wished for when I was young
So my family would be safe

Even on yellow-lit highways, with
The impersonal landscape fading
Into oily black mist.

In a trailer like that,
Parked in his mistress’s driveway,
My father locked us one night

So that they could fuck in privacy
Inside her ranch-style house.
When I woke up, my mother

Had the county and her lawyer
Unlocking the door.
So why should I daydream now

About a life on the road?
Last week a solicitor rang the doorbell
Of the home I live in with my husband,

And I looked out the window
Instead of answering.
I saw from the back

An old man in a trench coat and hat
Who could have been my father.
He left a pamphlet damning homosexuals,

Which fell from the lintel
When I opened the door.
How can we live like this?

Maybe by knowing
I live in a city that is one half
Of a whole,

And by knowing the rule here is change-
Where something is removed,
It must also be returned,

Just as I know, with time,
Where I have once been empty
I will someday be full,

And in the places
where I once have received,
I may later give.

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