I used to want to live here. Dreamed
steel spires and the floating lights
of distant apartments scattered across
a coal-dust sky like a lantern festival.
Darkness never total, always dimmed
by cloud cover, the one black bird wending
its way through towers of glass. The beauty
of decay—a red open sign blinking behind
a cracked wall—all the wet and broken
pavement. A saxophone in an alleyway,
a brick storefront—pictures cut out from
magazines—Time Out, The New Yorker—
pasted on a box where I kept my treasures.
How the box became the City itself—
paper pictures propped up by stiff board,
a place to deposit meaning. The thin black
lines of wrought iron were history. A high-rise
stretching its neck into low clouds were hope.
There was always something just beyond the scope
of sight—a garden behind a fence, a tomato plant
in a ruined foundation. There I would blossom
like a weed in the sidewalk, something alive despite
the constant trampling, something green in all the grey.
Meghan Sterling’s work is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Rhino Poetry, Nelle, Colorado Review, Poetry South, and many others, and has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes. Her debut poetry collection, These Few Seeds (Terrapin Books), came out in 2021 and was a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize in Poetry. Her chapbook, Self-Portrait with Ghosts of the Diaspora (Harbor Editions) her collection, Comfort the Mourners (Everybody Press) and her collection, View from a Borrowed Field, which won Lily Poetry Review’s Paul Nemser Book Prize, are forthcoming in 2023. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review. Read her work at meghansterling.com.
© 2022, Meghan Sterling