The day after is Halloween, the neighborhood jeweled, dazzling with transformers and zombie ballerinas, the entire neighborhood pours into and out of itself like two glasses of water. The neighborhood washes through its own aching like soap suds and buckets of rain. Pumping itself through a sieve. You’ve never seen such a movement of bodies, the sidewalk an ant colony of incredible hulks, werewolves wheeling small circles, the streets tinsel with motion like schools of fish. In this sudden secular ritual you watch, give away, reviewing tonight’s nouns: trick, thanks, gesture toward repair which is not reparation. Strangers passing so many sugar-encased objects between outstretched hands. And there is some flavor of healing in all of this laughter blistering through all of this pain. White neighbors and Black neighbors exchanging the smallest unit of interconnection. A tootsie roll here, three bags of Hershey bars later. The neighborhood pretends it’s composed of love and equal distribution. And you, white jewish latina perched in a tree beside the condemned lantern fly, cousins of the first generation, occupying the block. Titter how it titters, monitor all those flying wrists, flickering palms in the street. Arco de iris broken apart, splintering into plastic jack o'lanterns clutched from the bottom. Sacred celebration of none of your countries except your most country. You didn’t realize how much witches were still in fashion. And it does feel like love out on the streets: this is a festival, this is how a festival feels in a city of desire and ruin, of birth and of murder. Of cops and of children. Even on the block where it happened—kids, parents in costumes. Everyone involved in the possibility of what else we could be.
Mónica Gomery is a poet and rabbi living on unceded Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. Her second book, Might Kindred, won the 2021 Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize, and is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. She is also the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day, Foglifter, Waxwing, The Journal, Best Small Fictions 2020, and elsewhere.