Those first few summers meant not so many
days at the beach for us, we just started out.
Sundays meant long walks with a baby stroller
on the streets of a small city, always in the 90’s,
always high humidity, always a chance of rain.
Up the street we’d go with a bottle and a diaper.
On the corner was the Eighth Day Lounge with
a pinstriped Yankees car parked by the back door.
Further down, Daisy’s Carniceria with it’s strange
smell of dead animal, we’d buy cans of Inca Kola,
loaves of Manteca bread, or bags of plantain chips.
Down the hill, into the tunnel with the train tracks
above us, the walls dripped and the sidewalk was
painted with pigeon poop, littered with broken glass.
I pushed you up long streets lined with multi-family
homes ,once owned by the richest of folks in Jersey.
Shut down stores, closed restaurants, and factories
now gave way to the Prima Vera bakery where rolls
called conchas piled high on glass display counters.
Sometimes I’d stop and get a Cuban sandwich or a
cup of espresso, but mostly we headed to the place
called Five Corners with a bagel and apple juice boxes.
We’d park on a bench by a sign that said how it was the
capital where colonists and settlers came to market with
their goods here, before it was called the United States.
We’d stop to listen to seagulls screech by the Armory and
look out at sailboats moored in the gray waters of the bay.
I’d speak to the baby, he’d listen, not knowing how to talk,
but he knew how to laugh and he knew how to smile when
I told him how someday; maybe we’d have a boat like those.