“Swing” by Nicole Pergue

There might have been
seagulls in the sky.

Pink gum on the sidewalk
might have been bubbling

in the heat. The man
might have had a face,

if I had looked up—but I was a coward—
as he called us disgusting

animals, as he banished us to hell.
I didn’t let go of your hand—

I might have let it waft through mine
like a distant pink cloud

or a trash fire quickening
in a garden-green can.

I might have never
kissed you again,

but I did—only after
he had turned the corner,

only when I knew
he wasn’t coming back.

The bus we were walking to
might have left the stop by then.

I wasn’t sure if he’d come back.
Sometimes I kiss you

with one eye slit open
on street corners,

in restaurants, thinking of
the heaviest object in my bag—

how quick will I be able
to get to it, how hard

can I possibly swing.


Nicole Pergue received her MFA in poetry at Hunter College, where she was the recipient of the Mary M. Fay award. She is a native New Yorker who grew up in Queens and currently lives in Brooklyn. She can be reached at nicolepergue@gmail.com.