One Block from the Navy Yard

Every now and again fortune turns a corner
and there dally the first dandelion flowers
where the jail was razed, and on the stoops
across the street sit families who had moved in
when they could only afford the divvied, shy-
of-true brownstones with a rented view of the five-story
Immigration and Naturalization Services prison,
and now they can see straight through the lot

over the tops of the dandelions already white
and blowing right and left, to a street like theirs,
where residents have also put up window boxes
for the first time, as if both sides had shied
from spiking an inmate’s sense of drowning
luck by sending up perennials in the sight line
of her cell but now sit beneath blue, red and gold blooms
with an open gaze, talking before dinner.

Jessica Greenbaum’s first poetry collection, Inventing Difficulty, was the winner of the 1998 Gerald Cable Book Award. She is poetry editor for upstreet, and lives in New York City.