June 13, 2019

Floor 3: Capitol + Broad

Grace grows generationally at the liquor store:
My grandma was treated anyoldkindaway
My daddy ran the block
My high school graduation photo is up and left of the Newports
between the plastic above the counter

One day on this corner
My father told my mother a joke, she covered her mouth to laugh and I came out on the other end
Of course this is not all there is
But this is where most of us is:
Inside the house cursed with three generations of addiction
So my nana sold it when my mother went to rehab
The new owners — knowing nothing about what to do during a raid,
Or what to do when your mother goes to rehab
Or what to do about the remaining Black neighbors —
resold it for 1 million dollars and still couldn’t get the ghosts out
They added bars on the front windows and fixed the front gate
trying and failing

Laundry & Mambas
NowLaters & rhododendrons
The streetcar is changing colors again
My cousin rolls up in his mother’s squeaking car while I wait to see
if inbound or outbound will round the corner
like flipping a coin,
like shaking an 8 Ball —
which way will I wrap my arms and grip this city today?

I’ve watched the library become a blue paint-chipped void on the corner since I could read
I’ve watched the Pentecostal church become condos
And still sing

I’ve forgotten about the house next door to us — was it green with smooth slats or was it textured like goosebumps?
And who used to sit up on the windowsill, stretching out to the neighbor’s landing, leaning slightly into the tiny gap between the two houses, as a joke?
“I’m moving!” whoever it was would say.
As if they could lean just a bit more out of that window
And start a new life next door
We would laugh.
I’ve forgotten who was there laughing with me.

The consonants in our names are being whispered through the low looping telephone wires.
Even after the security cameras are installed
And my picture is ripped down off of the plastic in the store, replaced with a tax
My handprint is still in the concrete in front of our old house.
The park is full of dirt from underneath my father’s fingernails
even though they tried to ship him away
And the laundromat on the corner stays open late whirring with the electricity from my great grandmother’s teethgrinding beyond the grave.

Of course, this is not all there is
But this is us
This is ours
This is where most of us is.

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