Listen to “14th St., Buffalo, NY”
read by Claudia M. Stanek
Would your ashy roots dare tell of the boy upstairs, the boy with grey eyes like the ones that stared back at you every morning before coffee burned away your marijuana mist? Remember his lemon-blond hair, the shade peroxide couldn’t buy you? How you envied its gloss, even as it stuck to the grape jelly on his cheek and the smile you thought you saw just once, his pinked toddler lips so unlike those of deep wine you painted on yourself. Would you share your memory of the last time you heard him, stoned as you were alone when the walls above shook off their plaster and the floor bounced the boy’s wails back for more? Did you hear the fracture of his bones or did you dream the silence that sealed the room in yellow tape to keep the curious away? You’d never dared climb the stairs and would not then until later, when a too-young teen pushed her over-ripe belly, and you with her, up. You looked, you gawked at the mocha stain on the wall in the bedroom with a crib leaning against the window when she asked When can I move in?