Urban Planning

My father says I don’t know how you can live
where you can’t see the stars, and I tell him
they’re as far away from you as they are
from me, which is true. But he’s calling me

from his back porch, where, even blind
in one eye, he can see the entire spill
of the Milky Way above, a gush of light
across the sky of my childhood and if

I look out my window, past the beauty
shop sign creaking from its second-story
awning, I know where each one should be.
His good eye won’t stop naming them.

Here, I pay to go to gardens to see
native flora, and to museums,
for their collections of local birds,
stuffed, affixed to plastic branches.

I’ve learned to admire the brownish little
street wrens, hopping elegantly
through the trash for seeds. I’ve learned
to buy flowers on Tuesdays, to never

pay more than six dollars for corner-store
hydrangeas and it’s a lie that ice water
makes them last longer. Nothing
makes them last longer. When I buy

tulips at the grocery store, I buy
the smallest ones, buds closed tight
as a baby’s fist. I like to give them
as long a life as possible, to watch

as they shift their spines in the vase,
open their violet faces to my room,
spread and angle for air. By afternoon,
they’ll have tilted themselves to the left,

to the good light from the kitchen window.
Another thing I’ve learned here:
turn your plants often. When the light comes
from only one direction, that’s the way they’ll grow.