Steven Sanchez – Pinwheel

Steven Sanchez


My dog stops to smell
the silver pinwheel
a little girl planted
in the flowerbed
by the staircase
that connects
my apartment
to three others.
It’s become Tux’s favorite
flower, its folded
plastic petals spinning,
sunlight glinting
on his wet black nose.
He never marks his territory
here, never raises his leg
to claim this as his,
unlike the way he claimed
my foot the other week
when we had visitors,
or the way he claimed
this apartment the night
we moved in.  This pinwheel
has been here for months,
bloomed in winter,
and fell down
after every storm. 
And neighbors always
fix it, strangers
I’ve never talked to:
the man on the second story
who works the nightshift,
his footsteps going up the stairs
each morning I feed my dog;
the little girl who lives
next door, who loves my dog
even though he chased her
into her living room once
when I forgot to shut the door
(she still tells her grandma
Look! That’s the dog. I want
to pet him, but he’s mean.)
the older couple who moved
in a few weeks ago
with Texas license plates,
they greeted me
in Spanish, reminding me
of everything I don’t know
how to say.  This winter
more men have been shot,
dark like me.  Police found
a man face down in a canal.
His death was ruled
an accidental drowning.
He was on his school’s
water polo team.
He kissed men.
My boyfriend’s morning
jog was interrupted—
he matched a suspect’s
description. This winter,
after class one morning,
my students waited to talk.
They asked if their votes
mattered.  Another said
she couldn’t vote.
Another said she’s
the only person
with citizenship
in her family.  Again,
I was reminded of everything
I don’t know how to say.
I love this pinwheel,
the way my dog stops
to sniff it every morning
and night, the way strangers
care for it—even a person
I’ve never seen before
stopped and reattached
the silver wheel to its stem
after the wind blew it off.
When kids bend down
and exhale their breath
into its silver ribbon,
I remember that sometimes,
we don’t have to say anything.

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