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125th Weekly Poetry Contest winner: Leaving the City Behind

by Che Sara Sara

The first city you picture when someone says city

is your love city, the one you learned by foot,
whose concrete abraded the soles of your shoes,
whose subway map still appears in your PET scan,
whose towers of glass skies and doorways of urine
revealed how rich rich people really are, how poor the poor.
You rented a studio: tiny floor, tall walls, curved window,
five locks on the door. You answered
phones, made copies, added numbers, poured coffee.
This city trained you to sense busses coming,
distinguish Bhutanese and Tagalog, to know
the taste of rabbit from goat.
In the daily treasure hunt of your love city,
you found an all-poetry bookstore with wing chairs
from a thrift store next to a neon stripper bar.
Gradually, you discovered you fell in love
with all your lovers because they were part of the city.
They flattened and shrank in the nearest field.
Leaving the city is not the same
as leaving the city behind.
You leave the city by car or ferry or phone.
You leave behind what has challenged and changed you
into someone able, at last, to follow a black swan
without fear--to become yourself outside of the city.


First published in Turtle Island Quarterly


See all the entrants to 125th Weekly Poetry Contest