Conversation on Regent Street
We stand in the middle
of Regent Street talking about rain.
So much this summer and the last
nearly a drought. Rey goes on
about the way wax melts in sunlight,
a candle left out. Or one of those
little bottles from the candy shop
full of colored sugar water.
We drank them and got a buzz,
then chewed the bottles too.
When Bev Rinella was hit by a car
on Palmer Avenue, city workers
came and put up a sign that said
Children at Play. We ignored it
but stepped around the streak that stayed
until they repaved the road.
Still Rey swore he could see
the shadow even after trucks
rolled the asphalt smooth,
like a headless bird one way,
or like a man carrying
a stack of plates the other.
The plates had vines and flowers
on them, gardenias. Bev broke
both legs and spent the summer
in a lawn chair in the jungle
of her backyard. Mosquitoes
drove her mad. Rey wrote a note
on the back of her cast where she
couldn’t see (except in a mirror,
the words reversed)—Sweet Cheeks—
with an arrow pointing to her ass.
Her mother, tall and thin
with a Jackie hairdo, tried
to wash it off and then drew
a cute kitten in its place.
Mr. Rinella worked
for the post office and left
his family the next summer.
I remember eating dinners
at their house, how we bent our heads
to say a prayer, how I moved
my lips, how they never drank
anything with the meal,
not even water. The first drop
hits me right in the eye.
I stand there for a while
after Rey goes in. I move my lips.