first warm day

Degas thought each of the dancers was a city


Jacobs thought her block was a company of dancers


the body is a kind of simple machine


I don’t mean your body or mine because that’s too close


I want a friend who stumbles over my pronoun to apologize


he doesn’t and my body in the room with him isn’t mine


that time or the next time or the time after that


and I can’t figure out how to say why it hurts to see him


I bake one large slice of cake and walk around with it


I keep being interrupted by people I know on the street


and on the trolley, near the gas station and in the park


and they’re all like “that’s a beautiful slice of cake”


it’s the width of my shoulders and I offer a bite


and they take one and what I want is to be alone


in public with this slice of lemon cake with nectarine


in the middle and cinnamon frosting I’m saving half


of it for Sophie who will meet me here but I’m


eating my half now and both trolleys come up


on either street peripheral to the park at once


Ian McHarg thought a mountain was a body in a city


Le Corbusier thought bodies were machines in the house


I hug all of these strangers with the cake on a plate


behind their back and they take a bite when it emerges


I hug them all and wish Sophie were here she’s better


at hugging and last week I cut my friend’s hair


and her friend’s hair who kept saying “are you finished”


and “this is so much better than paying for a haircut”


they agreed with each other that they wouldn’t shave


their heads because it would change how people


perceived them as though they have some idea


that must be nice or having this cake slice is like


walking a dog and people want to pet it I take out


a box of forks from my bag and people in the park


walk over and ask if there are nuts in it and there


are no nuts and they feel weird that a bite is free


but they want one and I hand forks to their


four year old and their six year old and I pet their dog


who licks me first in one nostril then the other


there’s still half left for Sophie one child says


to a parent “that person made a nice cake” and


that feels good as does the warm weather


and the early buds all the green and lavender


I’ve been anticipating and a little of it is here now


Reyner Banham thought streets were the private


drives between the public highway and your home


Venturi thought we could learn from a city that


was mostly signs and the afterthoughts of buildings


Francesca is my teacher who traces all the bulldozers


the U.S. made to form flatter battlefields in WWII


that came back to build flat suburbs in the Malibu


Hills and outside Philly and everywhere after the war


it’s early march and 79 degrees and across the park


is the statue of Dickens every February there’s


a dessert reception here to celebrate his birthday


Amy is my other teacher who thinks we can make


a map of where people get heart disease and where


and how they get groceries and show the impact


of what a food desert does and to whom


there’s a picture of my dad’s friend three years


before she died of pancreatic cancer in this part


of the park serving the trifle she was famous for


on Dickens’ birthday


and she’s smiling and hugging people


but not in the picture in the picture she has a spoon


and whip cream and layers in this amazing eleven inch


and deep round glass dish and I’m thinking of her


here like a vigil when I see Sophie and she waves


both arms and I wave and raise the half-slice



Davy Knittle’s poems and reviews have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Fence, Jacket2, and The Iowa Review. horse less press published his chapbook, “empathy for cars / force of july,” in 2016. He lives in Philadelphia and curates the City Planning Poetics series at the Kelly Writers House.



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