My fingers numb with pain
as we walk cold-stricken streets,
my right hand holding my phone’s GPS high
like holding it to the sky would help us navigate NYC,
and more snowy wind slices the melanin on my face.
She turns to the street-ranger I’ve become
looking to me with warm eyes
and wearing a glove on her left hand–
And I realize that along with her eyes warming me on cold-stricken streets of NYC
she will always have a left-handed glove to spare for me.
My smile is not bright enough, too dull
for the tall buildings and treacherous traffic,
which I have misled us through–
which I thought I was prepared to do.
I had Googled
popular Manhattan attractions
and spent the time constructing an itinerary
studying the best routes
to all of the predetermined destinations–
And I realize that she is fine exploring without a compass or best route in-mind
while always having a left-handed glove just in time.
I drink too much Starbucks,
a type of waking potion,
and pretend that walking and transits are
preferable to driving in Kansas City,
when I know it inherently isn’t.
I have to go to the bathroom
like a normal person–
So we ask the closest NYC native in Starbucks
where the dark hole of excrements might be
for me to relieve my boiling vessel.
And it turns out not all Starbucks in NYC have bathrooms and she has to lead me across the street for one,
with a left-handed glove ready just in case I get too cold in our short time outside.
I sit by myself in a cold crowd filled with
artistic storytellers of the Nuyorican Cafe,
and I surely know it’s time to bring my best.
I go over poems in my mind
knowing that it’s almost time–
subtle anxiety replaces my lines–
Gazing around the cold-stricken
and she brings comfort and warmth when she sits beside and goes over my lines with me,
with a left-handed glove to spare in case anxiety consumes me and a quick getaway outside is necessary.
So I take off my coat
and intently listen to the open mic host.
She encourages me to put on
my metaphorical artistic-poetic-storytelling hat,
and my name is first to be called.
I fix the scarf around my neck
and lock eyes with a guy in the crowd
who seems to be another nervous foreigner
only without a supportive partner at his side.
I step to the mic
and the cold-stricken crowd,
and her warm eyes
of an opportunity to inspire anyone willing,
“This is an All-Star Session
for all you newborns bursting inside out,
and struggling to bring what’s inside out…”