The West Oakland train stop; defunct and tagged standing sentry between a collapsed overpass and a neighborhood gone to shit. You hopped the chain-link easily and breezed across the hill and dale of broken concrete, the stubborn flora crowding up and in between; moving earth like tiny fault lines, smashing plates together, splicing ground to find and free more dirt, more daisies. This is our first date.

In broad daylight, deserted, save a line of Winnebago’s next to Millie’s Motel on the corner, with flower curtains and no sign of life. I watched you strut away, hands in pockets casual, shoulders squared; and I jump hopped the chain link and marched into step, alongside. You looked surprised, I felt tough.

The front doors warped and boarded tight. We swerved around back where you yanked a sheet of plywood, kicked the metal door once, shouldered it twice, cursed and broke the rusty lock the third time. We got in; got high then made love inside the cathedral, on the wooden benches left behind; the pigeons whooping and fluttering—

I drove by it the other day—a Whole Foods now (all sacred places will become a Whole Foods, eventually); Kombucha and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt where once it was just you and me and the pigeons.


Christine No is an Oakland based poet, essayist and producer. She is a Sundance Alum, VONA Fellow, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 2017 Nominee. You can find her work in: The Rumpus, sPARKLE+bLINK, Columbia Journal, Story Online, Apogee, Atlas and Alice, and various anthologies. Christine’s got two chapbooks, one website and a pit bull named Brandy. Say hi, here: