to Ed McPhillips
He gave me back the night; I told him so,
as we sat on a stoop near St. Mark's Church
drinking beer disguised in paper bags.
While my peers dozed and doted
on their grandchildren, I was out late
bibbing the sauce with a young poet
whose skin was too thin for the world—
his tender body willow slim—
on Avenue A, a black kid asked for change.
Eddie gave and gave. Bending to pick up
a new penny, I pitched forward
and went laughing, soft as feathers,
on my knees in sudden prayer,
a bibulous bubbe fuddled on a single can
of beer, staggering out of gravity
into a youth carnival. Eddie cried:
"Gertrude! Are you alright?" The kid cried:
"Gertrude! Are you alright?" Mutely
I clutched the shiny prize, in a blaze
of Bastard Amber lighting a bodega.
The street went loop-de-loop, with illusions
of Starlight Park on summer nights.
The moon tapped my shoulder and beamed: "Yo! Momma!"
My two dear boys hoisted and stood me
puppet-like, on rubber legs. I giggled
at the kids, their hair so purpled
my teeth felt pink. I wanted to be
one of them, to be them, their dybbuk
drinking nectar through their ruby lips
to save me for another summer.