Skyline Chili

She thinks cinnamon and white onions
or bratwurst and sauerkraut, mustard
like the beginning of fall. In dreams, the
road twists away at the last minute, she
can see the bridge but has to swim to
a cement shore or take a ferry in rough
weather or sometimes, just sit beside
the water and cry as the city burns in
a winter sunrise.

She tastes creme
de menthe in her throat, a hint of
ether in the wind, has Persian lamb
curling against her cheek, buys MadLibs at the novelty shop, a perfume
sample, a black walnut cream or

wait, she says, this is a postcard.

She has two postcards for this town:
one of a suspension bridge, another
from St. Peter in Chains, cables and
cathedral, the cards scalloped, one
stained with sauce, and she asks:
what is the secret of the chili, if not
the sweet dark bite of cinnamon?

She sees the molluscs in the stone,
small traces of a vanished ocean
that turned solid and sullen. How
many sea creatures in each block
of stone? How skeletal the bridge,
how like a spine the articulations
of spire and column, shadow and
holy light. The limestone telling
a sad Rosetta of life and death.

She checks her bones for signs
of fracture, for stress, the load—
bearing too much for any body.

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