for Stephanie Right across Turk Street, south side intersection Hyde, in the tenement where 911 won’t summon up a blue, a man beats his woman, the twentieth time or more, their kids bawling. Over here, in this flat up on the third, above blazing red neon signs highlighting the Triple Deuce Club low below, I listen while wired white hippies move furniture across checkered tiles other side my sister’s arched plaster ceiling till way past 3 a.m. Shuffling with a sofa as if rearranging the heavens in my mind. Me, I sleep. Or try to. Nothing else I can do. Each day I slip off and out looking for work, gliding into the Streets of San Francisco winding, curving, like turbulence. Daybreak brings sweet Cambodian street children out into a Feinstein-era playground, still filled with hypes, winos, yellow-green from the night before, still smelling like piss and lizard. These kids though, they climb atop steel swing-set bars, fifteen, twenty feet high, as if they’re walking joint lines in concrete. Easy balance, Mohawk grace. Their sisters provoke a paper war in the street, closed-off block party. Paper flying by, I catch a piece, fold it origamically, create a mock financial pyramid, toss it back, watch little girls with black shiny ponytails make confetti for this ongoing ticker-tape parade, right across Turk Street, intersection Hyde.
From Off-Season City Pipe by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Copyright © 2005 by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.