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Sylvor Greenberg, Abigail , Missed Concert Elegy


Abigail Sylvor Greenberg
Age: 17, Grade: 12

School Name: Brearley School, New York, NY
Educator: Danielle Sheeler

Category: Poetry

Missed Concert Elegy


the night we hear Brooklyn Steel is saying no to kids, we are
thirty wake-ups into an acrid winter and prowling Fort Greene for coffee;
with unused concert tickets in my backpack, I walk
like wanting to show you I know this place is gentrifying;

I heard a white guy, likely of 
New Jersey birth, talking about bacon egg and cheese; asking 
his cohort of Tupperware-holders
if he could possibly get any more Brooklyn; 

we leaf through books in a shop 
you brought me to, woman-y essays
with lowercase titles I should recognize from my nightstand; 
I fudge a little homily

on purging the Jonathan Franzen types from
my collection; and a poetry volume I ordered off Amazon
by a guy who used to be in prison
you add by pointing to four things on each shelf and calling them required;


the night has become a flat, frigid thing
with bells; an orb we are not inside; 
we talk idly of other ways  this could have gone 
and squint and say “it wouldn’t have been fun”

when I ask what’s new, your girlfriend; 
who, having “seen some shit” 
knows the value of an evening; or
her hand in yours

it is unlike you to be the one 
doing the savor-ing or reveling;
you wear it nonchalantly
under a brown plaid coat I tell you I like;

I have never been a half of some dizzy, elated whole,
I don’t know if you are effusing or effacing me 
when you say you wish she was here right now,
but I’m glad

you feel okay enough in the oddity
of our jilted plans to tell me about
your un-clumsy attachment as calmly
as if you were giving directions to the subway;


in fairness, I didn’t know Brooklyn Steel
was saying no to kids tonight; it’s not like
they do that every night; and I didn’t know
tonight wasn’t every night;

I swear I’ll pay for dinner even though
my stomach feels like un-ground concrete; 
a trepidation for men 
in front of the supermarket; this I can’t reveal to you;

you might think I am angling
for your protection or your praise;
or you might think I am trying to gesture
to my own desirability through a cheap ploy;  

or you might think I am projecting a different, secondhand
Brooklyn on your quiet one; 
how dare I make demands
in a place that owes me nothing; 


you lead me to a little 
Mexican joint where I assure you I do not usually eat nachos
and drink coke; I do not usually say “fuck” every other word;
I do not usually get turned away at the door; 

I want you to know that and
I want you to know I’m a slow reader and
I don’t know why I wore a skirt tonight; 
or why I’m so sleepy;

I am dully afraid of all men and
most books and most boys and 
nachos and the subway; 
I am afraid of Brooklyn and Manhattan and the water between;

I wonder if Brooklyn Steel;
could have been solace; if the caffeine in your tea bag
could instead have been the jubilance of 
buzzed fanatics; flaking off on us; 


after staring at  your purple shirt for long enough
I remember it was only a passable
female rapper who will be nearby again soon; 
it was only a text I shot you last week; 

it was only a winter night expended oddly;
when in the absence of a concert,
you taught me to use the word “gas”
coolly, like a watchdog against liars;  


so I pay the check in recompense 
and elbow-hug goodbye, 
wondering if I want to kiss you
or cry