A Poem by Kim Sousa

Safe House

You say I get a kiss for the blue bandana
around my neck. You say, that’s how we wear them, too.
Lines aren’t so clearly drawn anymore.
Not like that.
           No one wants a RICO charge.
Still, you tell me to stop driving through The Hill—
even if it’s just a shortcut.

You teach me how to shake your hand
with my thumb and index hooked in a deliberate “C.”
A crescent moon you tore down
from its place over the Southside, Homewood.

Now, you wrap a towel around your waist.
Shower droplets shine out of reach between your shoulders,
anticipating a tongue, a fingertip, a pressed cheek.
Here, you teach me how to shoot the 9mm
in my dresser drawer.
It’s wrapped in your own bandana, blue as blood.

I say,                your enemies are my enemies now.
You say,           my enemies are dead, mostly.

I’ve never seen a gun so small. It’s terror
and thrill: what we carry/what we conceal.
You unwrap the Glock 9 so that your finger—
your fingerprints—never touch the trigger.

Bandana as erasure.
Bandana as reasonable doubt.

Bandana as a redaction of these lines.

Like this, you say and pull the blue cotton
up over your sleeve. To catch the powder.
           Gunshot residue.
I know its chalk-metal smell.

Smell like soil corrupted.
Smell like feet pounding pavement.
You put the gun in my hand.

It’s almost weightless,     hollow,    a dead bird.
I wrap it as tenderly as I would any other lifeless thing.

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