Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Rec Center

We traded cars for steel.
Flint or Birmingham,
slumping shacks or trash-flower projects,
I was loved


hated for saffron skin, corkscrew hair.
Your story? My sister’s father—dark
as you—was my father.
Both still in Flint—you had wed only hers, allowed neither on our walls—you
beguiled the world, you
unblessed mother, wife of imago, daughter of water.


To keep me near, you drove me to the center
and worked while I played.
Tall twins
dropped anchor,
head-to-head Battleship.
As I drifted past, redoubled smiles, echoed hi’s.


One day. Backyard. Just them and me.
“Pretty boy. Wanna know
where babies come from?”


No brothers, no father, I nodded, about to hang with the big boys.
When they led
me into the hollow room
and laid me bare, where


were you?
Table cold walls ablaze stomach cornfield
Your face ballooned the door window.
Did you think


swollen hymns could repair?
Did you blacken
memory, avoid its stare? Along the years, beside me
in car or church, where were you?  

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