oakland, 12

this is how it always
begins, these love stories
with new cities,
it always begins
with the geography

I am beginning to
commit to memory
the idiosyncrasies of
her streets,

how Stanford curves into Powell,
how Adeline veers west as you head south,
the sharp angle at which Claremont
and Shattuck intersect

my affair with
Los Angeles feels
so torrid in comparison
to this slow and careful
learning (perhaps owing
to the more frequent
use of highways there
rather than surface streets)

I tiptoe now
where a younger me would
already be neck-deep
in every way

now, I consider
each step cautiously
make no declarations
of what this place
means to me

As an anniversary
I still can’t say
what is in store
for me and this city

only that I have noted
the tiny new roots
quietly unfurling with each
passing month,
the sense of expansion
pressing in my chest,
the promise that I have made:

while I am here
I will be respectful
I will be gentle.