Apr/May 2006 Poetry

Street Scene

by Sam Byfield

Street Scene

Boy spilled over pavement like noodles. A crowd of people pulses like a lung. The best vantage points are taken. The ambulance takes an hour. The truck driver is on his haunches, shivering with cold and something else, hands in ruffled hair. His eyes are dark in a way that says he hasn't slept in days. Half a bike is still beneath his truck, the other half twisted against a building. And cacophony can't come close to describing the crowd, and no words can capture the look on the woman's face as she ploughs through people to see her son, opened up and steaming.

The night before, the boy, he's dreaming. His sister is snoring next to him. In his dream, basketball, the bounce bounce of rubber on asphalt and every three-pointer slips right through the hoop, and there's no such thing as pressure. Everything is symmetry. His pulse is big, the winter chill is nothing. He wakes at 4 a.m. to seamless dark and silence, the city two hours away from stirring, rises to study his English book by torchlight, roll dumplings and go to school.

Did he have a sense of what was coming? Was he talking to his sister as she rode next to him, or was there nothing but the ceaseless blast of horns and cheek-biting chill? Taoist temple on one side, supermarket on the other, sky clouding over with the suggestion of winter's first snow, dust whipping everywhere, and then sudden, tangled flight, and maybe he knew it, but maybe he was already gone.


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