Reva, of Shalott
Aunt Reva’s tower lies to the left of the Atlantic,
a high-rise in far Rockaway– just off the Belt Parkway
to Cross Bay Boulevard and left off the exit ramp.
The high-rise apartments line the boardwalk–
blanched, faceless buildings,
tall, groaning monoliths lurching out toward the beach.
The sand looks dirty and unkempt,
a coarse, thick mixture of grain
and sharp shards of black shell.
Walking down the hall to her 10th floor apartment,
I fade to a dingy yellow to match the walls.
Each doorway I pass is closed and silent.
It takes 20 minutes for her to answer the door.
I don’t know whether she is afraid or just sleeping.
Urging me inside, she shuts the door.
It closes, melts into the wall seamlessly,
her four walls broken now only
by the sliding glass door which leads to the balcony.
The would-be breezes and light
are barred from entry by vertical blinds
flanked on either side by stiff curtains, drawn tightly.
For hours, we sit inside.
She’s angry I’ve come, and afraid that I’ll leave,
embarrassed by her smallness, and defiant of her slowness.
She doesn’t go out anymore, since The Fall.
She’d lain for too many minutes on Riverside Avenue
before help had come.
Her hands and legs having turned traitor,
she curls them now against her,
reigned in tightly to avoid further rebellion.
The stale silence lulls me–a thick, foggy drug.
The door to the balcony
teases her occasionally to its opening,
but the sun is a light in which
she burns too brightly.
She watches from the table,
armed with bagel and lox