In Washington DC, the streets were full of sparrows
picking bones out of KFC buckets, children selling
candy bars, homeless men who shouted
God bless you to anyone who would throw them a dime.
I moved to the city the year the Tsunami hit Indonesia,
Katrina hit New Orleans, people took refuge from Darfur.
On the bus a woman with no teeth asked
if she could move in with me. I told her yes,
then got off at the nearest stop.
Everyone wore the same black wool coat.
A man named Cowboy kept running into me on sidewalks.
He never asked for a handout,
but one day I traded him a dollar
for some shampoo and a book he had found in the trash.
It was the year I got a job raising funds for a girl
with no shoes, discovered the cheapest pizza was on Columbia St.,
and found a man who would hold me all night
when neither one of us could sleep.
I loved that city the way the Metro
sounded like an empty cathedral, the way mist
obscured the National Monument, how the night
was warm as apple cider all summer long.
Then in November, the leaves fell.
A boy at a bus stop threw up on my shoes.
A man with barbarian teeth tried to open-mouth kiss me in the street.
I returned home to find my keys locked inside.
I walked back, over a bridge
and found a father and his son
pull fish from the freezing water of the Potomac.
It was the year the cement filled with their naked gills.
The night filled with fog. The geese waddled away,
and I saw the moon appear in the river.
Face of an adult woman, stepping alone into the cold.