Martin Espada reads


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245 Wortman Avenue
East New York, Brooklyn

Forty years ago, I bled in this hallway.
Half-light dimmed the brick
like the angel of public housing.
That night I called and listened at every door:
In 1966, there was a war on television.

Blood leaked on the floor like oil from the engine of me.
Blood rushed through a crack in my scalp;
blood foamed in both hands; blood ruined my shoes.
The boy who fired the can off my head in the street
pumped what blood he could into his fleeing legs.
I banged on every door for help, spreading a plague
of bloody fingerprints all the way home to apartment 14F.

Forty years later, I stand in the hallway.
The dim angel of public housing is too exhausted
to welcome me. My hand presses
against the door at apartment 14F
like an octopus stuck to a aquarium glass;
blood drums behind my ears.
Listen to every door: There is a war on television.