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Elegy for Philly

by Nick Stanovick

August has come, cloaked in the stress of leaving
the geese calling you to follow them south
the skyline already a forgotten shape
lost to a skirt hemmed with cloud.  
no stranger ponders this unfairness,
the city ripped from you
like a necklace from a damsel’s throat

your sanctuary rendered useless
a voice bled of sound

you unsnarl the house key from its chain
scratch your initials into dirt
finally acknowledge the beggar’s hand

what is it you must not forget?
the dandelions crowding the papi store’s stoop
ready to lose their heads
the basketball gate braiding itself with honeysuckle
the wavy summer heat
keeping the asphalt quiet
until twilight calls the boys from their rowhomes

still, the final hours chew through you
like maggots through sour meat.
remember the dragonflies wiping fountain from their wings,
the park dog nuzzling your arm?
remember the pier--
the slow tide of love, the weightless feel
of skates, the river silvered by moon?

Isn’t this what the leaving do--
hoard a timeline’s worth of memory
into one last golden hour?

then, sudden as a sickness,
city in the rearview
horizon napping above the dash,
each breath putting another mile between the two
what other option is there
but to go
and leave the sorrow
to its work


Read all work by Nick Stanovick


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