By Chris Miskiewicz

She walks down Manhattan Avenue with strong shoulders and a supple posture. Her dog trails behind as well as leads her along. It’s a familiar walk, like they’ve been doing this together for a while.

The street aches from bitter winds. Steam blows from manhole covers and smokestacks. While the scent of bread from the New Warsaw Bakery comes and goes in tides almost like its mocking people with the heat of its ovens.

The party is warm. Several candles are lit. The dog finds the couch and curls up there for the night. Wine trails against the side of a glass as the liquid reforms after a sip. There are breadcrumbs against the tablecloth next to a knife. Pate. Cheese. A smile. People talk in the old railroad kitchen while the boiler rumbles kicking on the midnight heat. That means that the house is working. The house is doing her job. Good house.

She takes a quiet moment and goes to the back window staring at the rain gutters and tenement bricks packed tightly together by thin strips of cement. The back of the house is where only function mattered.

I light a cigar on the roof while facing the wind and stare out at the neighborhood, cornered by a bridge, a river, a creek, and a highway lying before a wall of brightly lit buildings, while the water tower at Greenpoint Avenue defiantly, darkly, shoots up like a kid who’s giving the finger to the city telling it to go “fuck itself.”

I think of my Ex staring at the same view with a cigarette’s ash growing between her long lazy fingers as she stares out into the night. Nearby, my high school best friend silently rolls dice across the face of a board game with his fiancé, while, to the left of the bridge, David paces his long hallway pretending to be King Lear, slowly passing his neighbors curtained windows, each one lit by the flickering blue glow of a television screen.

My neighbor lets “little shit” out into the yard. He squawks once causing my dog to howl back down at him. I join in with her until he goes back inside. Then we chase and wrestle across the frozen rooftops, growling and dodging each other within our dance.

We both have good night moves.

Afterwards, I lean against the doorway and re-light my cigar. I exhale and crack the door just enough to let some of the building’s heat touch me. It’s warm. It feels good. Good house.

–Chris Miskiewicz

–Photo by Chris Mis