Fishtown Betrayals

She pedals over trolley tracks and cobbles
on Allegheny Avenue, past Szypula’s bakery,
its rye line redoubled. Past Stanky’s GoGo,
where yesterday her husband stumbled,
booted out, the old baba said, who defends
the counter at Borowski’s Cleaners. She stops
at the light to let two semis chug by, and the 54 bus,
and a polka dot open-hatched hatchback, speakers
the size of baby coffins, salsa notes pounding them shut.

Before the light changes, a freighter floating
between twin towers of the grain elevator
and the cold storage warehouse catches her eye—
the ship so endless, it seems, instead, to stand still
while the whole neighborhood drifts down river,
under bridges, out into the bay. (I see it all
from the walkway of the Walt Whitman Bridge, The white
wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl….)

The riptide and then back out to sea, the North,
the Baltic. The seem, though, lasting only
as long as the light, as she once again pedals,
plotting, leaning into the breeze that carries
the stench from Rohm and Hass, passing hoagie shop,
scrap metal heap, and Lithuanian Hall–before
she discovers that the red letters of the word Gdynia
stenciled on the ship’s gunwale have left
on her forehead a chalky residue.
Leonard Kress lived in and around Philadelphia for more than 35 years–Port Richmond, Fishtown, Harrowgate, Frankford, etc. Now he lives in the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio. His latest collection of poetry is ORPHICS, from Kent St. U. Press.

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