White Handkerchief

I was walking around Chinatown,
a city paved with pigeons
the color of concrete sky,
past karaoke bars,
noodle houses displaying fake food
sideways in the window, bakeries dissolving
white cakes on trays under bright lights,
and in between crates
of improvised vegetable stands.
They advertised in two languages
the contents of one box
of vaguely shaped produce.

And I decided it was time to forgive myself
for not being more
or less than hung up
by my own wrung neck
by my own two hands
in a display window blazing
with electrified heat,
as I sweat out the last
of my borrowed juices.
How can I not be
in the middle of it?

I am like a white handkerchief
peeking out of the pocket
of the man who strides
through streets and alleys
and jumps on subways and buses,
late for everything.
He bumps up against whatever
is in his way,
places himself in between destinations
that never arrive,
until he is settled in a seat finally
where there is no more space
to be negotiated around him.
And he sits down
next to the smiling, chattering version of himself
whom he tries to ignore
but who takes me
out of his pocket,
opens me up on his lap,
and out hops
a small bird.

Greg Jensen