We live in Los Angeles, California.
We have a front yard and a backyard.
My favorite things are cartwheels, salted plums,
and playing catch with my dad. I squeeze the grass
and dirt between my fingers. Eat my tongue
white. He launches every ball into orbit.
Every ball drops like an anvil, heavy
and straight into my hands. I am afraid
of riots and falling and the dark.
The sunset of flames ringing our block,
groceries and Asian-owned storefronts. No one
to catch me. Midnight walks from his room to mine.
I believe in the devil.
I have a sister and a brother
and strong headlock. We have a dog named
Spunky, fawn and black. We have an olive
tree. A black walnut tree. A fig tree.
We lie in the grass and wonder who writes
in the sky. I lie in the grass and imagine
my name, a cloud drifting. Saturday
dance parties. Everyone drunk on pink
panties, screwdrivers, and Canadian Club.
Dominoes and spades. Al Green and Mack 10.
Sometimes Mama dances with the dog.
Sometimes my dad dances with me. I am
careful not to touch. He is careful
to smile with his whole face.

Donika Ross Kelly