Carlos Andrés Gómez: Interracial in Flatbush, Brooklyn

We watch them do this, expand 
from all directions like lungs 
abruptly filling with water, 
as we hold hands and walk through 
the eye of another storm. A man grabs 
his crotch, offering it to my wife, flings 
a mouthful of spit and epithets towards us. 
Each pupil is a dim swamp 
flooding, silence blanketing a shallow 
body in Neshoba County, dusk 
shedding its absence across the congealed 
oven grease beneath a rusted burner. 
A woman’s neck swivels when we pass, 
wraps a hard vowel around her tongue 
like lighter fluid choking a glass bottle 
holding a fuse. 
On this corner, scored by dancehall and soca, 
there is nothing more novel than me and my love’s 
contrasting hues—it ignites a rush of color 
from these strangers’ faces. They ring us 
a violence familiar as February weather, 
mine our skin for metaphors, demand 
we offer answers to questions 
they are still forming like infants 
from their throats. 
I have watched my body’s primal wisdom 
flicker dark as a fist-concealed palm, ache 
so volatile it screams for release. Rage 
is a language I unlearn on the corner 
of Ocean Avenue and Church, no shoreline 
or cathedrals in sight, only fractured things 
decorating a broken sidewalk like littered snow. 
A new voice pierces the air, a flood of sound 
that hits me like a wall of ice, louder and higher 
pitched than those before, this time a small child 
with brown skin and green eyes, writhing 
in her flimsy stroller, pointing towards 
the dimpled oval bootprints I leave 
behind in the hazel-colored slush, 
squealing: Papi! Papi!  Papi?

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