And If You Think I Need You There Are a Million Rivers for Us to Ride

Photograph by Jose Padua
Sunday afternoon and my neighbor
is singing Olivia Newton John
via the Bee Gees’
“Come on Over” in Spanish
louder than Avenue B traffic
and several car alarms combined
which means that her boyfriend
didn’t come home last night
or left with angry words
this morning which means
that pretty soon it’ll be time for me
to head out for one of my long walks
50 or 60 blocks uptown until
I run out of muscle in my legs
or downtown until Manhattan
comes to a conclusion and
stops like a spaghetti western
but before I go I start to hear a sizzle
from her kitchen
and the hallway soon fills
with the smell of food frying—
pork, chicken, beef, fish, shrimp—
and when I walk into the hall
her door is open and she’s
out there smoking a cigarette
because the kitchen is getting too hot
and she looks at me and rolls her big eyes
as if to say “What else can I do?”
or “I can’t believe this shit”
then brushes out a tangle in her
curling black hair with the back
of her hand and I shrug
my shoulders and swing out
my hands as if to say
“What else can any of us do?”
or “There’s no shit left worth believing”
and it’s our Sunday substitute
and spiritual choice for church,
wondering what on Earth
is there to do
then pausing to gather
our inner sources of inspiration
and strength before
continuing on our paths
in praise of the brilliant future
and whatever it brings our way.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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