The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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Coming in, flaps down, to San Francisco. To my left a British Airways jet,
sleek and white, coming in to a parallel runway. For a moment we are perfectly aligned,
our signatures, our wakes. Below us, singly and in pairs, bright boats in the bay,
little florettes on the cake of the sea. Someone there,
looking up, might think we are swans.
I think of the parallel universe, that twin world that lives like a bubble, like the past
inside each vagrant moment, my mother saying once I had a twin somewhere in Europe
who might starve somehow if I didn’t finish my green beans. Perhaps he looks out now
from the other plane, slim, a survivor, puts down his Guardian as I put down my Times,
sees me in the sun-flare bubble of my window, synchronized, pressurized,
the way birds see each other, moving and unmoved, in the midst of migration.
We are paired, always, even in our absence from the other: the young man who trips on his way
to his lover and then begins to run, the way we all do sometimes when we think
someone is watching, his heart getting ahead of himself, his love already beside him;
and the man sitting asleep on the sidewalk of Clayton Street in the Haight,
and the Buddha sitting the same way in the wedding chapel in the Presidio,
bright as a bee, both of their laps filling with flowers of money and light;
and the woman who walks down Sepulveda this morning, walking as she used to walk
with her husband, dead now, or gone, wandered off into avenues of silver and light.
She leaves a space for him still. You can see him there, glimmering, as she picks through
the mangoes, taking one in each hand, then putting one back in a silence I cannot name,
the way a man once, cleaning out his dead mother’s refrigerator, found
that toward the end she had eaten so little she had taken to slicing green peas
into halves, into tiny green hemispheres, worlds split in two,
each one speaking sweetly to the other.