You take my pace beside me
in southside neighborhood streets—
cottages wrapped in vines
and slow, summer evenings,
dogs laying in dirt,
and doors creaking with torn up screens,

and it’s as if I’ve traveled back in time
with you to when I walked for years,
alone in the quiet, just me and the wind,
asking the passing clouds
why was I still here
in this city where everything
was changing and growing—
roommates moving out,
friends getting married,
a new hotel being built,
and rumors of good pizza coming,
but I was still here on these
too familiar routes.

From where did you come,
that your journey would not
just parallel or briefly intersect,
but fall in step with mine—
flipping through picture books
in the blue library box,
and naming vegetables in the church
garden and the wildflowers
that spill over the sidewalk?

A white terrier races off the porch,
which makes you want a rocking chair,
so you can sit on your front porch
every morning and night,
to watch the traffic zip by,
when your porch is really just a stoop
for catching all your potted plants
and sweet bubbling laughter,
which you readily share with me.

Jazz rat-a-tats from a kitchen window,
and two men turn barbecue
in the shade of their little
yellow house, roots of an oak
twisting under their feet.
They say hello as if we
were invited for dinner,
as if we lived across the street
in the house with the fig tree jungle.

We find fireflies mingling in sunset
and July firework smoke,
and you move closer as we sit
on the back of my red Pontiac
and watch dusk hide the trees.

In your eyes I see
it doesn’t really matter where I go;
life is sweeter when it’s shared,
and all the time
I walked these streets alone,
was to slow down and love the pace,
the space enough for two,
where I could offer my hand
and fall in step with you,
our stories intertwining,
unwinding time together
in streets we now call our own.