text mode CrossConnect previous next

Issue Contents
E-mail Us
   r a c i s m

--- S T E P H A N I E   D I C K I N S O N

On a wool Army blanket he licks her boyish breasts, sucks her wild fruit. A pallet is what he meant by the shiny street of boutiques. Another man kneels beside the pallet. He unbuckles. Shows off his worm nestled in fragrant curls. First time in Chicago she was just a kid on a train in the dining car. The waiter placed a bouquet on their table. White petals with red vessels tissuey as lip skin. He wore a uniform made from the tablecloth. Mother was reading aloud about Liberia. The freed American blacks sent by President Monroe to Africa to pioneer. Died of malaria in the swamps then came another ship of freemen. Some lived. The rings of sweat under their arms are all night saxophones. This is what he wanted her to see when he beckoned her out of the bus depot. This is Old Town. His ringlets drip like wet stems, sweet-tasting as they smear over her face. "Touch me," he says. The freemen founded Monrovia. Established the first black republic in the world. They dressed in mourning coats and top hats. They danced the Virginia quadrille. The second man takes her hand. Ice tinkled in the water glasses, but she was thirsty for trees and grass. More tenements. Clotheslines crisscrossing between fire escapes. The waiter kept smiling, his teeth cloud-white. Factories swarmed by. Wrigley's, Purina, Squaw Woman. More rickety tenements. Purple shirts flapped as she drank form the ice-tinkling glass. She bit through the lip of the glass, bit until there was glass in the bacon lettuce tomato sandwich. Making herself hurt would heal what she saw. It's done and she steps into the tub's dustiness. Ceiling sifts down in cake flour and up from the drain albino cockroaches run. She bites her finger, harder until she breaks the skin, until she sees the mark of her teeth. Mother whispered, "Be glad you don't have to live like that."

© crossconnect 1995-2001 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |