Under the cliff walls of apartment blocks, on a narrow patch
of grass as tough and discolored as old carpet,
they have parked their motorbikes and distributed themselves,
a tribe, a colony, girls and boys, some lounged
on the sward, some on cement paving in a strip of shade,
some on two facing wrought-iron benches planted in concrete.
Out of range of grownups, they play cards, they scuffle,
a girl places her head on a boy’s lap to practice kissing,
they smoke, they pass lit cigarettes back and forth, a smaller boy
pops a soccer ball against the wall with slow, heat-drugged, sidewise kicks.
Hours pass. Cigarettes burn down. The ball thuds and shadows lengthen
across concrete from four cypresses and six anorexic ginkgos.
Day is endless, summer is endless, their throats sweetly sear.
They drink Coke and toss the plastic bottles on the grass.
This place, for now, is theirs. They can throw
what they want, their lungs are their own to burn, their limbs
loll in the loosened harmony of dancers at rest.
They can pick themselves up when they want.
This poem ran in the February 3, 2011, issue of the magazine.