Winter 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1994 |

Far Rockaway

After "The Pyramids to the Projects," Charles Burchette We follow dried spots of blood. We're dressed in African prints. Our hair shines like fire. This is the eighth floor. The elevator is a hazard but it carries us here haltingly. Ronnie's zooted. He hugs me many times. He talks about sculpture, how "dialectic" it is. He repeats the word with such authority I'm convinced. My mind shifts. The children have original names: Devonne, Shantavia, Marquise. Spelling is arbitrary. The ocean carries away the rules. This is a whole world, I think. Someone smacks a roach by my head. Sonny shows me pictures of his white children. He sits beside me and we pass a baby girl back and forth, buckling her tiny plastic shoes. "Doogie" falls asleep on my lap. His head soaks my leg. I smell his innocence, his fatigue. I pray: Please let this one live. Lori braids her nieces' hair. They sit before her, aged five and six, like sphinxes. Their small heads bob w

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