Queen City Cayenne

by Natalie Shapero

So the man who leapt from the wharf,
trying to end it, was saved by a cold-water
swimmer again—so what? Won’t he just
learn to wait for a time when nobody’s
in the ocean: an hour of rite and reckoning,
an hour when swimming for pleasure
would seem obscene? After the news
of the massacre, I remember, we wound
our way through the city of money they’d
pressed over top of the city we already
had, and we saw that a massive glass
facade on the corner was already blanketed
with taped-up, handwritten letters.
We moved closer. What do you write,
at a time like this, to assuage or avenge or
embolden? We wanted to read it.
But the flush of paper—it didn’t concern
what we’d thought. The notes all pleaded
COME BACK, CANDIED GINGER. WE LOVE
YOU, OH, COME BACK, ESPRESSO BLACK.
It was an ice cream place, shut down
to the public after a toxin was found
on the washroom floor. So we gathered
under the quarter-round awning pretending
that the shop had been shuttered instead
due to the shooting. No Backyard Mint,
no Queen City Cayenne, no Scotch
Whisky, no Praline and Cream. An hour
when having a sundae would seem obscene.