I know these streets from memories, crooked cobblestone bricks tripping sneakers, high heels, late-night waltzes home from bars. I know the storefronts, eateries, cafes — the corner you’d meet me for evening bogies, midnight chats, meandering stories. Your hair a faded blonde, your face a jaded youth.
I know this town from a world in a parallel fog, a dust in the air of perfume and body spray, cigarette smoke and blunts and the exhaust of stale cars in the parking garage. I know the dorms, the shouts and the laughter in the square. The sound of pick-up sports on the green, lazy in the late-summer windows, the calls up the empty stairwells. The quiet of the library and the sanctity of a mind grounded in thought.
I know this town of its quarrels, its draughts, its underaged bars and youth on the rafters. I know the fist-fights and blackouts and scars you hide because the causes are gone, never known and never sought. I know the trash cans we rode in and the rooftops we plundered — crowds of amphetamine and beer-battered uppers, walls of vomit and days in darkness for one bright, starry night on the outskirts of town, up the hills and down the streets, a pleasant Hello for every girl I’d like to meet. Crocheted pockets dropping change and little baggies traded for the worth of accounts overdrawn. Professors never sniffed the shit. But you could. You did. In the alley where I met your hands, in the dorm room where I felt your breasts, in the vacant classroom where you gave a glimmer of the piercings beneath your skirt…
I know this town and I knew you. I knew the staircase where you sat and smoked, and I know the weeds and dogs that stray along the sidewalk and the laminated notice nailed to your old door, and I know the quiet of dying, the quiet of useless memories, and I know the heft of the weight you left behind, the old stupidity of me, renewed for a miserable hour reminiscing.