At the Intersection between Broad and Jefferson St. by Emily Tian

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At the Intersection between Broad and Jefferson St.

A five-and-dime store leans on the road
like an old man ironing the young.
For an instant the glare of the three o’clock sun
washes away its tarnish.
Against the steel rod apartment buildings,
find some relief in its
nakedness, the white paint
like cigarette paper trundling
into ashes. In this town
the tradition of initial-carving
still stands, so there is no shortage
of names fisted against each other
in half-eaten wood.

Buy an apple whose skin is
gathering red. The girl at the register
is daughter to poplar and cinder block,
a kedge drowning. Knuckles and nickles
scraping, tell her to keep the change.
Her hair is slicked back but
for a few dusty capillaries. She hums to
Bob Marley on the radio,
won’t you help to sing,
these songs of freedom.

The copper in her eyes oxidizing,
saying: Look, look, listen.

Emily Tian

Emily Tian was born in 2001 and is a high school sophomore in Rockville, Maryland. Her poems have been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Reflections program, among others. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cadaverine Magazine, The Claremont Review, and National Poetry Quarterly.