345 West 15th Street

Heat lightning, my Nana’s
lullabies and her gentle snoring
in the other thin bed across the room,
gulls with names and stories that we gave,
like George, like Tom the ice cream man
who gave me a ride around the block
once in his ice cream truck,
who would give us the damaged ice cream
for free. Mistakes, lessons learned,
my first kiss that tasted far too salty,
so much so that I ran to the bathroom
to wash out my mouth. Picking up
buckets full of snails from the Bay,
feeding stale bread to the ducks,
swimming up and down the lagoon
training for a lifeguard job
I would never get, sending messages
in bottles no one would ever read.
Chocolate ice cream cones with sprinkles,
watermelon lips and sunburnt cheeks,
learning to ride a bicycle for the
first time and running head on
into my neighbor, sun bleached
hair and cigarettes.
But none of that is there anymore,
it was all washed away, covered in mold,
sold for so much less than it was worth.
And my grandmother lies at the bottom
of a hill in Philadelphia,
still waiting for her headstone.
I can’t hear her snores anymore.

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