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The Price of History

price of history - jeffrey mcdaniel - Carolyn Daughters

Jeffrey McDaniel

You’re at a bus stop, wool hat
tugged down. Slush sprays

up from the trees of a bus
wheezing to a halt. You lumber onboard

and smell the nachos and beer breath
of the man who peers into the crevice

of your mostly zipped-up jacket.
You close your eyes and remember

being fifteen, your parents’ Baltimore
rooftop, the sun blaring down

like a golden trumpet. You stripped
to sunbathe on the asphalt

with three friends, the smokestacks
clearing their throats over the oak trees.

The face of Darius, the one black kid
in your class, froze as you lifted

your t-shirt and revealed
a Confederate flag one-piece

that you thought was a Union Jack
when you bought it on sale

at a strip mall in Virginia. Want to get high,
you asked in a British accent,

as his smile fled like smoke
from the pinched wick of a candle.

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