THREE ENCOUNTERS WITH NO ONE
“Your lover is here,” the fortune-teller says.
When I turn—no one.
Who is this I keep meeting?
A question insistent as the street cats
who yowl for scraps and dig in dumpsters.
If, as the government recommends but will fail to do,
all the cats are sterilized, these newborns
will be the last newborns.
The fortune-teller laughs.
It isn’t cruel, it’s the laughter of gods,
which says You don’t get it, I forget you’ll never get it.
Her teeth are toast-brown.
Fifty years of hand-rolled cigarettes.
She offers tobacco. Everyone here is so kind,
they don’t even ask my name.
The children stretch their voices over the wall
between one courtyard and another.
They expect someone to listen,
but the neighbor garden is full of no ones.
How long will their voices shake the jasmine that blooms in the night?
Was it right of me to name a tree “no one”?
Who am I to go around assigning being?
I can’t see in the dark; I have not heard my name called.
My friend, my only friend here
who is not a stranger:
the figurehead who leans
from the prow of the triangle house
at the corner of Ermou and Odysseos.
No, wrong—what is the name of that street? Ektoros?
I have walked there so many times yet as always
I forget what I need when I need it.
Or this is a dream and in a dream
there is no such thing as memory, or names.
Elisa Gonzalez is a queer Puerto Rican writer raised in the Midwest. She has an MFA from New York University. Her writing appears in Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Hyperallergic, Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, NYU, the Norman Mailer Foundation, the Rolex Foundation, and the U.S. Fulbright program. She lives in New York City.