Drink Up, City

Drink Up, City

John Pluecker

Take your time. This storm won’t last a few days.
It’s been raging for twelve years already, or centuries, and it won’t let up

for generations. Yes, it’s true, the rain has intensified
its adjectives, racked up new names, created a new syntax

for the soggy ground and all its human and non-human inhabitants. Their eyes
leak brackish drips into me, brown streaks

carve a new map: sand ripples on pavement. Truly, you are unknown to me,
city, even more so now, though I wander and wallop my arm

against tree trunks, waiting for a sound or a stinging pain,
something, a momentary view of the whole damn elephant. My eyes don’t see

clearly now, though, for sure, somewhere someone I’ll never meet
is telling my story with numbers or video clips. It’s all necessary,

earth reminds me, don’t be bitter. I’m startled by the quantity of storytellers:
the torrent of posts and texts and lists assembled, but also the stream of me,

as I rush down the bayouque. I carry loads, I just need to flow, I plead
innocent. Who stole all the prairie grass and who mowed down the cypress trees, who

dumped those chemicals here. Whoever it was, they need,
like I need, to keep moving. Oh, what an impossible range to cover, a city to behold in flashes,

never amounting to a whole. I can’t even say “we” without leaving someone out. Always, city, you clap
in the distance, signal like a slew of helicopters, crisscrossing, invisible,

inadequate. I’m not mad at you for not doing enough,
for not taking care of more people. Sometimes all you can do is sit or sip on your margarita

and that’s okay. I still breathe, I insist I’m not glamorous or heroic, I hardly have a point
to make at the moment, as your members muddle and muck their way out of another flood

of barely nameable emotions. Nowhere is more real
than wherever you are right now. Don’t rush off, city, drink it in. Breathe in your banana leaves

as they shiver, feel your nostrils as they fill with water and mud, your feet
probe the ground. Negativity is allowed, crying makes its own reasons, even pessimism

has its purpose. Not everyone is asked to be a preacher or a politician or savior. Not all words
need be marshalled to trumpet unity or faith. City, your needs

are vast, interminable. Words sometimes, the best they can do is fall,
like droplets.

Posted: October 27, 2017 at 12:01 am

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