Heart Beats on a City Street by Michele Lee

Blog Michele

Words, the author’s building blocks,
filling half a city block.
One after another, bound words,
alphabetized and organized, surrounded by gray bricks,
one after another, neatly stacked.
Words transformed into books and bricks transformed into a building,
by artists’ hands, inviting others to step in.

I meant to
accept the invitation and lose myself
in the place where there is a place for every book
and where every book has a place.

I remained outside
where life is messy,
where nothing stays in one place for too long,
and where water stains don’t land one in a trash bin.

I got caught up
in the living and breathing
happening outside in real time,
keeping me from shelved and closed books.

On printed words,
I did not dine,
but the pulsing city life
I did devour.

A bagel and a sidewalk shared with a stranger,
whose sad eyes and deep lines revealed a lifetime
of stories, just as dramatic as any found on the printed page.

Silhouetted curves and skin merged
when into a fitted black dress, I did slip
through the sliding glass door, greeting a moon dimly lit.

Dusty brown boots traded for barely-worn black stilettos
that skipped over puddles, stepped over cracks, and
swayed to the rhythm of cool jazz, uniting breathing shadows.

Rooftops raised to the stars by live music,
created by musicians whose calloused fingertips
and dark circles are not the result of staring too long at pages turned.

Sirens switched on by paramedics
who blur down the city block, night after night, checking pulses
and listening to slurred words spoken by those stuck in their worn-out story.

Someday, I may return to this city block
and if I do, I will step into the brick building
and enjoy a quiet dinner for two – just me and a delicious book.

Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.

~ Plato

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