I ask her, 
How many lives have you lived?
And she answers, 
One on each street corner 
of the Lower East Side. 
There’s a glint in her eye
that speaks 
of a childhood 
twirling under a loose fire hydrant, 
arms stretched like eagle wings,
like the water can hook under armpits
and carry her up, up
to a sky a little cooler 
than down on this 
sizzling cement;
Mama called for me to grab my shoes, 
but I was already so far out the door. 

I see 
a hand-me-down armoire and 
a mirror lit all around the edges 
in little light bulbs, 
almost all bright like tiny stars, 
hair twisted up and pinned, 
a teen of smooth edges 
and fine lines, 
cardinal lipstick 
and chiffon skirts. 

Her eyes tell me of 
the boy she met 
between cup sizes 
who showed her 
how to use her hands
in funny ways—
his mouth could make her feel 
like glitter, 
heated and glistening, 
spilling over edges—
it made up for all the other stuff. 

I saw a tumble downward, 
a heel caught in a sidewalk crack, 
and a panicked stagger past 
Seward Park 
and the new Whole Foods on East Houston, 
past the shiny apartments she can’t recognize, 
her arms outstretched 
for traction, 
and instead gathering seasons, 
something to roll 
that won’t hurt her back, 
and lives to replay 
behind lenses in her eyes 
as days pass, just as they do. 

I offer a smile, and a dollar, 
this woman who I know, 
and carry on home 
until I see her again