Wish Museum


Somewhere, over the crests of bridges that top I-90, past the hallowed (and holey) roads of Triskett Avenue, and a short jaunt from W. 117th, there squats a house-sized patch of pavement.
Longer ago than anyone can remember, a small building was built upon this solid zone of rock.
It is just one floor. About 400 sq. feet.
The front is windows.The back and sides are brick.
It is now painted white.
Though it’s a little hard to tell.
The building used to be a pizzeria. It’s not anymore.
Instead, on the front, in a fat scrawl, the words,
“THE WISH MUSEUM Everyone Welcome Monday-Friday 9:30-2:30”
are written. Sideways,
The building looks like it might have earned a Purple Heart in the Spanish-American War.
Its shades are sagging. There are cracks and wrinkles in its paint. The dust,
accumulating, like melanin on an old man’s wrists.
It has thirteen great-grandchildren. Three of them are law firms.
One of them is a laundromat.
I think it’s dead.
It probably doesn’t know what the word “fortitudinous” means. It doesn’t need to, though. Really.
The only remarkable thing about this building
is that you can’t look into the windows.
Sure, you can look at the windows. And you can tell that they have no black cloth behind them, and that they’re clear enough to see through.
But no one ever looks through the windows. It’s not because people walk by too quickly, or too slowly, to notice the building moving at its antebellum pace.
It’s not that everyone that walks past the building is blind.
That would be weird.
And it’s especially not because people are kind or unselfish enough
to understand.
It’s that everyone who walks past the building,
whether it’s in their conscious or in the mud of their unconscious,
has the same thought.
Everyone who walks past the building has the
same thought.
They don’t want to squeegee their eyes across the glass,
and rest their slimy globes upon that pile of rubble in the corner.
And see that box.
A fist, a fist-sized box, with droplets of creamy brown rain
salsa dancing, texturized by movement
on its surface.
As they look at the box, it slowly starts to change.
And they feel something inside of them being pulled apart
cotton sinews that when continually torn eventually reduce to air.
They blink. They rub their nose. They snap their fingers.
And now, where the box was, there is a rock.
A fist, a fist-sized rock, who had taken style cues from
the refrigerator aisle at Sears.
Another puzzle piece, fitting in with the mosaic of rubble.
Microscopic hairs diffuse across the barrier that is their body.
Or is the word for that “assimilate”?
No, it’s not.
The box is gone.
The rock is here.
The box is gone.
The rock is here.
The box is gone.
Where are you?
On the back of the building, spraypaint,
the word (DREAM) purple.
What are your dreams?
In the northwest corner, a man
pees on the weeds.
Where are they?
On the roof, a shingle
cries for forty years.
Are you sure?