We have been led. To believe.
In the immaculate:
clothes hanging on the line, defying the death penalty.
In thin dish water, and the curative powers of bleach.
In my grandmother saying, “No one’s too poor to buy soap.”
In Riverdale there are more laundromats than churches:
a single sock pinned to a cork board, our flag.
Then why am I awakened by hot tar and an argument?
Why do they wash their cars and believe
that this alone will make them new?
The woman in cinnamon knee-highs on the porch
(the porch still wearing Christmas lights)
believes, but her child is already dirty,
so she knocks the smiling toy into the front garden
of little tomatoes all holding their breath.
This morning the city begins digging,
Getting the lead out
says the paper they write miles away.
How to care for people
whose houses are made of potatoes,
who eat paint and weeds and bruises,
whose dogs laugh at vaccinations,
who have never heard of the Roman Empire,
who will never read this poem.
The children’s leaden fists
off like bullets,