blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



The Kidnapping

Grandmother left her youngest child, Alice, with a neighbor
          on the top floor because she was moving
into another building where she could be the Super. She didn't
want the baby in the middle of all that mess. Her husband, Blackie,
          driving up and down Tenth Avenue,

delivering electrical supplies—plugs, cords, little relay boxes like
          the black recorders plucked years later
from drowned airliners, a voice behind Blackie already saying,
"We're going down, we're going down!" The neighbor disappeared
          with Alice. No note, no nothing. Just

the empty apartment. Blackie had a few more drinks near the docks
          on Twelfth Avenue, near the German
freighters, talking about the Lindbergh baby. Burly men grew misty
eyed and cursed Bruno Hauptmann. The newsreel ran on and on.
          After mother grew up and married the ex-

bootleg driver with the melancholy face, maybe she thought her
          sister could be recovered
if she named her own daughter Alice. The baby growing into a
pigtailed girl inside my sister, who woke nights afraid she couldn't
          breathe, who sleepwalked

toward the kitchen window with the loose pane that popped out
          the next morning and floated down
into the alley like a transparent soul the neighbors looked through
before it crashed near the Super sweeping up clothespins and bottle caps.
          Whose hand was it in art class drew

the little house with the smoking chimney and three children
           instead of two, arms and legs spread
out, spinning in the air? Who first bled through bargain cotton
panties? My sister clawing at her face, something pinching her
          abdomen, twisting up an eye.  

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