Some years ago, I went to New York and Connecticut. I attended the New Yorker Festival; hit the Metropolitan Museum; took a train from Grand Central Station to visit friends and walked miles. It was glorious.
Yet, my small town heart suffered. Where I’m from, we speak to people on the street, whether you know them or not. Heck, we even say Hey! to drivers in cars as we wait to cross the street. In Riverside Park, I met a most wondrous little pug named Olive. She made me feel right at home.
Riverside, Manhattan, New York
The verdant piece of parkland at 80th and Riverside,
a repotted scrap of home, is filled with clusters
of walkers, dogs and owners in tow. My small town heart
breaks its restraints and I call unacknowledged
hellos to pets and their humans, to squirrels in hiding
and flocks of sparrows barely visible among browning
leaves and grass. I move deeper into the park, chilled
out and in, when she makes her move. Her brindled body
travels in the perfect trajectory of meeting. Unsure of intent,
I turn to face her. A lolling smile, the radiating warmth
of flesh leaning into flesh and a rapid swipe of tongue
against my leg and she’s off to her next welcome.