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Baltimore


In other noises, I hear my children crying—
in older children playing on the street
past bedtime, their voices buoyant
in the staggered light; or in the baby
next door, wakeful and petulant
through too-thin walls; or in the constant
freakish pitch of Westside Baltimore
on The Wire, its sirens and rapid gunfire,
its beleaguered cops haranguing kids
as young as six for propping up
the dealers on the corners, their swagger
and spitfire speech; or in the white space
between radio stations when no voice
comes at all and the crackling static
might be swallowing whole a child's
slim call for help; even in silence itself,
its material loops and folds enveloping
a ghost cry, one I've made up, but heard,
that has me climbing the stairs, pausing
in the hall, listening, listening hard,
to—at most—rhythmical breathing
but more often than not to nothing, the air
of the landing thick with something missed,
dust motes, the overhang of blankets, a ship
on the Lough through the window, infant sleep.


Sinéad Morrissey

Antioch Review

Spring 2012


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