The tuxed-up drunk, trembling the dorm’s lobby window
when a bottle tipped him over. His squint not at me but past me
to the one hundred keys glittering behind my post,
the check-in desk, where all summer, I worked the Saturday
insomnia shift. The ruse of looking down at the marble notebook,
one-one thousand, then looking up: the drunk gone, like a movie ghost.
The prank caller, the phone a bee-sting sound.
The paper I had to write to undo my grade of “Incomplete,”
something about Eden, something to please my professor.
Tumbling from the nightclub: the samba amateurs,
some still whistling and writhing. Cigarettes cracking balloons.
Like archangels, the narcs patrolling closed Union Square.
Kamikaze, Titanic, Banshee: all the sweet nicknames I knew for heroin.
Saying them, obeying them, to feel the lull. To not feel.
The dancers whose other moves frightened me
nights I worked sober: they trashed themselves;
the place, the park, could be the garden again only if
they vanished. This much I knew about Eden.
And that I wasn’t safe: I needed to look outside.
The desk radio refreshed deaths and sped-read
the conditions—traffic and weather—
no obit could overrule.
Early morning the beautiful victim, noon the coroner.
The dancers writhed.