Supernatural Bread

by Gregory Pardlo

Lexington Avenue tugged the bus to Easthampton
out of reach each time I neared it having missed
its stop at 77th, and chased it to the next one

which I hoped would be 69th at first but had to bet
on 66th when traffic cleared and I saw its brake lights
squint, swamped again by traffic, almost evanesced,

but I kept running as if some prior self that I despised
was on my heels, nostalgic for my undoing, but it wouldn’t,
the bus, that is, in fact stop until the stop at 59th, 

after I slalomed bodies under that Hunter College
jet bridge, and past the loading bay of the Park Avenue
Armory where men rigged what looked like giant cages—

I almost stopped to ask—in a mist that sheened
my rucksack plus the duffel I had packed because
there’s no night bus back to Manhattan, and I’d planned

to give a reading at the college way out there where it was
more like New England than New York but then I
guess New York is technically New England if we’re honest,

I mean, especially Easthampton where I stayed
in an eighteenth century farmhouse restored
punctiliously by this owner-guy who thanked

his stars, he said, for the nation’s new administration,
but the farm, he said, with some reluctance and suspicion,
may once have harbored runaways, you know,

from before the Civil War, and I thought to ask him why
he’d hide such lore behind that shibboleth of history,
but thought again like maybe it was impolite or petty,

so I harbored in my head the weary travelers chasing
emancipation that by nature had to lurch just out of reach
each time it got dangerously close to revealing

itself as the mere abstraction that it is, the facts
of their lives become projections of my own in that
I may have caught the coach that moseyed down Lex

as if it were the very pachyderm of time itself,
but there’s still a bus-shaped desire that shrieks through
my mental like Williams’s figure 5 compelled

through rain and lights, and leaves a vacant perforation
that reflects the way I want to be loved, that is,
with alacrity and perhaps a little desperation.

 

Copyright 2017 by Gregory Pardlo. All rights reserved.

&
See two more poems by Pardlo debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: “Metaphor” and “Convertible.”


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay| Writing Prompts

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