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.