When I look over my shoulder
to change lanes on
the Leo Frigo bridge
high above the bay, I see her
reaching over to smooth his long hair –
my son’s girlfriend –
and it’s as though he’s been
cracked open and I’ve seen
his heart beating
for the first time.
It’s crowded, so
we park far
from the market grounds
this muggy August night
and we take our time on the
uneven sidewalks, overgrown by
late summer weeds.
Neighborhood kids on Big Wheels or bikes
circle elderly men on canes,
dodge parents carrying chairs and coolers
in the slowly fading light.
They walk behind me, holding hands –
her hands are cold, she says,
and holds them up to his heart.
The waffled orange plastic fence
runs between Titletown Brewery
and the Fox river that flows north,
parallel to the railroad tracks where
uneven piles of fresh gravel and asphalt wait patiently
for the future coming through –
we pick our way past the recycle bin
and a family struggling with a wagon.
I give my charges $10 and set them free.
On the periphery,
the hot air balloons groggily lift their outsize heads
as though waking from a late-afternoon nap
they don’t recall taking.
Their narrow necks fill with heartburn and fire and
soon a sentinel of them line the riverfront,
alternating light and dark against the purple sky.
Though it is late, I feel reckless –
I buy cold brew coffee
from a couple in a pull-behind trailer,
white trimmed in teal. Benjamin Brewer.
I pay $1 to pet a white puppy
from Lucky 7 Dog rescue.
I take a card.
I run into my cousin who’s just gotten a text from my aunt:
“We’re by the pole dancers.” Sure enough,
Her brother is wearing a hat
like one that I imagine Fitzgerald wore
to write about Daisy –
he punches out staccato poems on the spot
on an old typewriter
for young women in pairs,
for families with kids,
all standing in line and waiting for
His chalkboard signs says:
Poems. Any topic. While you wait. Pay whatever.
I wave at him and smile
but he is hunched over his work, and
I keep walking.
The hot air balloons
that have been taking Midwestern turns
lighting up, one after another,
slowly topple sideways,
wait to fold them,
tuck them onto trailers,
and drive them away in darkness.
I walk under the lights
strung over the picnic tables
to listen to the band all the way from Portland-
a marching band
drenched in New Orleans voodoo and
blended with Village People who do Cross Fit,
who make their own t-shirts,
who maybe practice polyamory.
They are jubilant,
they have trumpets, drums, a slide trombone,
I buy a t-shirt I don’t need.
My son and his girlfriend
and the music
and then grows again
as we walk backward through the vendors to the the exit
(“Everlasting Romance”! Henna! Goat Milk Soap!)
then back up the street.
Along the old Larsen cannery
under the streetlights,
weeds grow wild and tall
between the sidewalk and wall,
and I say they are impressive,
and she says she’s never heard weeds
described that way, and so I say
they are profligate,
You should write a poem about that,
my son says. But
I am not thinking
of adjectives for weeds,
I am picking my way
through the darkness and
watching the way that
people move about in their houses
lit by TVs and kitchen sink lights and soft table lamps –
I am thinking that
is a window lit
for a brief moment,
and that years and years from now
I will walk past it in the darkness