99: Philadelphia

99: Philadelphia

99: Philadelphia

Philadelphia
by Emily Skaja

          ⏤city of hot pavement
                                         addressed by hot pavement,
          boiling puddles studded
with floating syringes, paper kites.
          A bridge swung over the water
                                         with direction, like a fist.
          All the time he was trying to show me
how he was a stuck door
          with an eye-hole punched through
                                         where I saw only
          gashes of light.
Brute. He locked me out.
          I walked 3rd Street
                                         all the way north.
          The day’s interminable heat.
Sweat tore up my thighs.
          Cherry trees, I remember,
                                         were blooming
          shamefully.
It was a house I was always
          walking back to.
                                         I wasn’t delicate.
          The door was blue.
So it was
          that the palm of my hand
                                         held a red bruise
          shaped like a bird. 
A lit crow. Flamed.
          How sharp it is
                                         to be wrong-fledged.
          To be rope ravel
winging out
          of syncopation.
                                         Tried trying.
          Just once I wanted
to hit & hold the person
          who could hit & hold
                                         me down.
          I wanted the bruise
& the voice that was sorry.
          Terror to give up control⏤
                                         terror to name it.
          There was a bottle.
There was a bottleneck exit.

“Philadelphia,” from Brute by Emily Skaja. Copyright © 2019 by Emily Skaja. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.

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