Community by Shane McCrae (from The Iowa Review)

I at the time I didn't know
A grown-up word for one
except I knew some dirty words
I was eleven sometimes waiting for the bus
The bus stop
was the sidewalk was up
on a little hill looked down on the street
Except it was too low to call a hill but there
isn't a special name for dirt that kind of low
And so I call it was a hill

And sometimes these two cops     the same they
I think it was the same they
every Sunday they would
drive up under me expose themselves
All the police back then were white
even the bus drivers were white
I knew some
dirty words for one but seeing them they
didn't match the words
I couldn't didn't

never saw their faces saw
their uniforms     their hats
the deepest blue I ever seen a
Black man get lost in blue like that     a real dark one
I never saw their faces
But I could tell they sometimes they
were laughing     from the way their chests shook
like their hearts had gotten loose

This thing it
wasn't in them with white girls
I can't believe it was

If it was white girls too they
how could they have been
the men they were in the community

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