Laura-Gray Street

Recreation Center

This is the boy who calls it nigger dog and kicks hard at its tobacco-yellow ribs. This is
the woman, just a volunteer who looks and looks away. This is the bone crack you can’t
hear with so many kids yelling. This is what you hear—this is shut yo watch this ain’t
naw you it—

This is the tobacco the boy packs hard; the cigarette he sucks down to nub and flicks at a
crack in the asphalt. It lands beside the dog under the sliding board. This is what you see
when you close your eyes.
This is a test. Now the dog, leg crushed, dragging its whip-thin tail, wheezing on its
haunches. Now the boy, sliding his eyes at her —White lady, you like this mutt? He
whips the dog around by the tail, squeezes its muzzle hard, harder until it whistles
through its lip flaps. All the while eyeing him eyeing her eyeing you. This is the thin
music that uproots us.
Damn clean as a whistle—She taking his lip. These are the little girls she’d save if she
could, muses of the patrol car, skinny as roots, the red and blue lights they love licking
their faces, their arms, their legs. (There is a girl the boy saves candy for and then the
condemned crawlspace she plays in collapses. This is how he finds her).
These are the dog days of summer. This is why the woman says, You, hey you boy—then
gasps: because the dog whines to play when the boy calls Here boy—, and doesn’t cringe
at his outstretched hand. This is the last straw.
This is what we get. Is this what we’ve been waiting for? Is this what we’re afraid of? Is
this seat taken? Is this what it takes? (What it is what it is?) This is a crawlspace/ our last
resort/ just the beginning/ how we play (fill in the blank). Tell me, what is the meaning of
this?
These are ears pitched higher then human hearing. This is the way to retrieve a broken
body. This is why we’re here, isn’t it? This is is an expletive; it should be deleted.
This is hard. This is the end. This is once upon a time. This will be continued. This is just
to say. These are words (this is a boy, a nigger, a dog).
This is what dogs don’t know: why we cringe at a word as if it kicked (this is fear, this is
human), not hearing (is just a woman, a girl (—his girl, gone)) how a word looks
((away—)).