Almost at the alley’s elbow, I know the gate
of rusted green, the scrabbled beams that anchor
flimsy iron sheets to the garage. There used to be
a second-hand white Impala tipped with fins, then
a cousin’s cast-off Benz, its deep viridian
offset in wedding pictures by yards of tulle and creamy
orchid sprays. A neighbor had grown the flowers;
her sons are gone, and she herself is dead.
There used to be a row of cages wrapped
with chicken wire, cacophony of crowing in the dark
before true dawn, occasional glint of metal spurs
when sunlight struck the tin cans dripping water.
Broken parts of rowboats beyond repair
were stripped as palings. The bougainvilleas
always needed cutting back, and yet in summer
spread papery nets of coral and magenta
across the south wall, even on the night the child
ran out the side door in bare feet, crying after the figure
disappearing halfway up the rise, beyond the street.