Installation

p
o
e
m
s

When you leave the museum

of contemporary art, opening

the doors to midday, you may need

a few minutes to reset context:

the bike shackled to the sign

is only a bike, the sign only a sign,

no small white exhibit labels.

Out here birds are nothing

but their crumb-begging selves,

shitting on cars and waking us

before our alarms. Cars are cars,

shit is shit. You walk by some café

where a woman sits alone unless

you count the two dachshunds

eating torn bits of French bread

she’s tossed under the table.

Aren’t the dogs perfectly

curated and aren’t the branches

like bicycle spokes, the noontime light

a playing card whirring between them?

As if sunlight as sunlight isn’t

art enough, as if trees need to be

more than themselves to deserve

attention, which is a kind of love.

You’re a stranger in this city,

finding your way to the hotel

where you’ll sleep only tonight,

though when you arrive,

you’ll text your husband,

I’m home. It’s more than enough:

the city as itself and you as you

inside it, and home as home,

etcetera, forever.

Maggie Smith is the author of, most recently, Good Bones, and her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, The Believer, The Paris Review, Best American Poetry, and on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary.

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 March 11

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