Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Where Your Sister Danced in Other Years We Flee and Shelter

the power went out
it came back on
and the air did not shimmer with panic

at first
we thought it was fireworks in the parking lot

a flare aimed into night
and not into bodies

we saw a fire openthe sky filled with grass and screaming
the smoke a grenade in our lungs

we saw the line of scorchinghow it came
out of nowhere
the power returned and died again
like a slumber party
there was ice cream
and helicopters

we played pianowe were either
safe or trapped

some of us hid in the attic

we prayedwe waited
for the end of a fireone of us never returned to

it didn’t seem realwhen they said we could leave
we asked are you sure are you sure

the ground went on sparking around us

our parents were desperateto learn we were breathing
I love you that was the last thing we

didn’t think this could happen here

inside a grip of smoke
it disappeared

we could not see the ocean  

Drawn from eyewitness accounts of Pepperdine University’s shelter-in-place policy and the Borderline Bar
& Grill shooting—events overlapping between both communities within the span of twenty-four hours.

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