The Cops Behind Us, I Hold My Breath

— Porsha Olayiwola

& remember i am alive, neither murky memory nor headline unlike laniya, dominique, & ashaunti who were chased in the dark of morning for stealing a joy ride & what wonder were they chasing & what chase were they evading & what gave chase to them in the dim break of day when the sirens jailed the night—the cops, grinning after realizing the collision, stood at the water’s bank & teethed like the grill of a pontiac smiling into the mouth of a pond while the lips of the girls closed to hold breath or widened to wail—the cops, too worried about mudding their shoes, their suits, while laniya, dominique & ashaunti sank & i bet them three floated thick as thieves, always together, eating greens and chicken at they grandmother’s house or holding one another up as the other juked, bounced body onto some boy barely able to stand during the home­coming dance, no, the cops hadn’t thought about the swelling, only the swallowing throat that eve allowed them to become & all i can think about, when anthony finally crosses the bridge, is that our car is still a car & not a mausoleum & the road just a road. & then, finally, sweet wind, i let go of my breath—

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