Once, the world no bigger
than railroad-divided Youngsville.
Once, we made it to South Carolina;
all of us alive for the family reunion;
once, two miles from the city limits
my uncle pulled out of the car
to have his coin-filled pockets searched.
Once, to see the ocean,
we took the back way out of town,
we lived in a circled path
and made do behind a kerosene’s heat.
Once, my mother the shape of God
pointing to the moon in a screen door.
Around a card table with her brothers and sister
in gin they trusted the squash would sprout a way.
Once, I trusted a hand pointing north;
once, I called for a wolf
and a man walked out of the night.
I walked Youngsville and marked myself down on a map
I was making.
Once, for my birthday,
my family gathered near the rusted cars in our backyard
and my happiness the color of balloons.
Tyree Daye reads “The World Grows”
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