The mother on the first floor sells dinners through a kitchen window looking out
onto a seen-better-days, dreaming-of-more courtyard
right next to a wide made-for-loitering-sidewalk;
bordering on Eutaw Place with its park and benches and lilacs ripe for stealing.
Her children pay her for their dinner.
In summer the courtyard smelt fried;
Fried chicken, fried bacon, fried fish,
(Spots, Croakers, Porgies, pan fried)
The courtyard smelt heavy, humid and full of hunger.
greens and meat cooking on someone’s back burner
mixed with cigar, cigarette, pot, cornbread, Old Crow, Miller beer
and slightly bearable sweat aromas.
Baseball games come into the courtyard
through an open unscreened door
and a 20-inch black and white floor TV with rabbit ears.
It flickers wildly in the dark during night games.
The children play
jump rope or hopscotch or baby dolls, fashion dolls,
“Sit still, let me braid your nappy head” dolls.
run, fight, jump,
challenge, whine, defend.
The children wear
Chucks. Purcells, jellies,
fish heads or flip-flops
while sucking down liquid from miniature wax soda bottles.
Orange flavor. Green flavor. Blue flavor. Red flavor. Yellow flavor.
How they taste?