“Excuse Me, Where is Varick Street?”
Varick, yes. Just—oh, Film Forum, sure.
Go straight down Carmine and turn left.
Wait, did I say to turn onto Houston after Varick?
Actually I’m walking that way.
Actually you can turn here, before Varick:
this street dead ends at Film Forum.
In fact, I’m going to Film Forum.
Would you like me to carry you?
I was going to carry something anyway.
Did I say to walk through the air molecules on the southwest corner of—?
Let’s count forty blocks of sidewalk.
No, wait, thirty-seven paving stones to the corner.
The ticket window is there, on the south side of Houston.
Coincidentally, I’m also going to see the Tarkovsky.
I am ploughing and harrowing my soul,
rendering it capable of turning to good.
I was going to buy two tickets anyway, my pleasure.
The brownies here are delicious.
In fact I’m going to get one.
Here, let me feed it to you.
I am good for you.
I am good also for lost Japanese women,
For the boys in Big Brothers Big Sisters
(I am always seated next to them at weddings),
for the aggrieved,
the grieving, the recently blind—
Are you going to sit there?
Coincidentally I am also going to sit there.
Can you see out of my eyeholes? Are you comfortable?
“‘Excuse Me, Where is Varick Street?'” first appeared in Ploughshares, Winter 2010.