Girl: says “Columbus” but no, that’s not where she was born,
   she’s only been there since she was five,
   closes her eyes and feels the gridwork of the city,
   but is quick to check that it isn’t veins on the back of her hands,
   stomach lurches with the roll of the fields outside her home,
   but she’s made sure that they aren’t the bumps at the back of her throat.

Boy: says “San Francisco” and says it sweet, like molasses in her throat,
   got two dads but doesn’t know where he was born,
   haight and Ashbury, inked to his ankle, not really his home,
   red-rimmed, inflamed and proud, paid for it with his last five,
   spends the whole day on BART looking down at people’s hands,
   that one’s got nails red like blood, too soft palms make up his city.

Girl: her cheeks puff with the shallow breath of the city,
   scribbles notes under the table, spoken words gum-stuck in her throat,
   boy-made bruises, dirt-dotted freckles, pink-chalked hands,
   whispers: “born
   into soy and corn,” sure he’ll smell it under her chanel no. five,
   but it’s the only way she can find her way home.

Boy: talks about it with an air of arrogance, borderline ignorance, “That’s my home” –
   not the 7 by 7, not 19th and Mission’s three-toothed man, not the red gate to the city,
   pulls out a map, “Look don’t you see,” but it’s been dead too long, maybe five,
   cigarette smoke, right and wrong, black and white, burned his throat,
   feels slick and shiny and smooth, like moments ago he was just born,
   never crunched leaves so he decides to just sit on his hands.

They: are her nails too red for the blue on the palms of his hands?
   if their clothing is stained with it, and their voices reek of it, does that make it home?
   what if fields and bridges don’t make up where they were born?
   what if sleep crusted eyes and beating heart and bleeding palms really mean city?
   is it better for words to sound like tire tracks, bicycle whizz, train buzz in their throat?
   why do they need to pack up their absent-minded letters right at five?

Them: why is there a shadow across his face and it’s not even five?
   do you think that her city is made up of too hard hands?
   why do rotten apples, rather than icy winds, claw at his throat?
   is she machine-built, or is she home-
   made, crafted with scissors and manure-glue and rainwater like her city?
   can we erase the insignificant birthday and declare this is the day we are born?

they don’t feel reborn, it’s too hard for Them at twenty five,
but Boy holds the concrete of the city and Girl holds the roots of the grass and join hands,
and now They are finally homeward bound – Columbus and San Francisco empty in their throat.