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The Sound A Body Makes


ISSUE:  Spring 2002

Only three days later I realized the chalk outline was gone,
faded, no doubt, in the rains
that flushed the gutters clean, & now a steady line of haze

as the sun walks its beat. There were photographers,
yes, a few nights back:
flashbulbs burping light which I could imagine—

bursts of brilliance through the window shade.
The next morning: yellow
gift wrap of police tape & talk at the bus stops:

how could I explain what I saw?

I stood silent as in a precinct
somewhere downtown, all my answers were reread
& reports were written.

           I hadn’t seen a thing,
hadn’t heard a thing until—there isn’t a word to describe it,

no metaphor apt enough—
the body hit the sidewalk before me & bounced slightly
as if pushing the soul free from whatever binding holds it firm.

A little sentence of blood whispered from his mouth.

Where were his wings?

           If the detectives ever found a note or
a motive, I don’t know—my answers
must have been acceptable, but they weren’t all I knew;

even I had flinched in the hot breath of an approaching subway.

But I couldn’t say that as the black wand of the pen
wobbled above the officer’s pad, so I said what I said—
I was just walking, minding my own business—
& I’m sticking to it.

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