Friday Night on the Hill

by Tyree Daye

                    started with uncle’s sugar wine
then a strawberry cake arrived in our aunt’s hands
like a candy-stained-face-child

someone out of luck and hungry
scrawled that pain no more
in the rust of all the Fords in town

the gentlewomen are not so gentle
when you ask them
to do your hair last minute
their fingers weighted
with a week so close to death
on a Friday night
we could get downright animal lonely

the only thing wounded in a field
I watched spirits entering a boardinghouse,
surrendering to a piece of plywood
made into a dance floor

the youngest of us wanted mostly
to be held for a mile
by our mamas
or an older favorite cousin
while they kick dust
to Raspberry Beret
we touch the coins of light
on our bodies
from Uncle Duck’s disco ball

the chicken thawing
on the river-colored counter

have you ever seen black folk shimmer
under floodlights & summer? We
                    are beautiful you would think
                    we could grow out of the precious ground
there’s a place on the hill we can go
that’s hurt me in so many ways
but tonight the hill loves me I’m sure
as the dead do it will roll
and love you
like a hill should

Published on December 5, 2023