Your first time out of the country
of your own skin, I didn’t bring a map.
You always hated that I’d been lucky
enough to pick my way through streets
I couldn’t pronounce to find cathedrals,
graveyards. If you were a city, you said,
I’d only like to know your suburbs.
If you were a city, I said, I’d like to know
your poor neighborhoods, your inner parts.
Read your graffiti. Drink your tap water.
Feel your smog and dirt stick to my sweat.
Hear your orchestra of sirens and gunshots.
I’d know which of your streets to walk.
If you were a city, I’d expect to be robbed.
— Heather Sommer