Hello in My Neighborhood
Yellow tape blocks my jogging route.
Someone shot last night. Gloria found him.
He seemed asleep, like a baby in his truck.
She shivers in the early morning chill, wonders,
"Is he Mexican or Salvadoran? Was it gangs?"
Tells the history of violence on Beck near Victory,
how they finally had to call the police
when Bill tried to run Anne down.
Will I phone? Her daughter should be home by now.
They won't tell a black voice anything.
Lunch at Thai Kitchen; a man bursts in.
"Some damn woman on a Talk Show, big problem,
daughter dating Negro, whole damn world phoning in advice!"
"Sit down and eat some squid," I invite.
"Shalom, I'm Kenneth," he orders duck, still shaking.
I respond, "Keefhala, Mahebra, Buenos Dias."
"What hospital you born in?" He gives me a high five.
We do New York geography, share the newspaper.
Front page, Latasha Harlins' face, he cries,
"I'm the darkest in my family, my sisters almost pass,
Koreans control international banking."
Stone in my throat, I cannot speak.
He makes the waitress laugh practicing
"thank you" in Thai.
A friend worries about the lynching in Brooklyn,
invites me to the shooting range.
Open air markets, herring stand, stooped man in side-curls,
my Great-Grandfather? Parents shopped Sundays,
never introduced me, wanted me to pass?
March on Washington, first boyfriend,
we couldn't hear the speech
went to Maryland, tried to get married.
Dr. King's murder, man who held me,
tongue thrust deep to silence my cries.
Day cooling down,
Gloria knocks, wants to jog with me,
needs to take off some pounds anyway.
A boy boasted he'd tracked my route.
Didn't she tell me not to go the same way each time?
She misses the Texas town,
where her Granny ran naked down the street,
her Mama kept the Tree lit all year.