Yvette R. Murray

The Opposite of Charleston Is Pittsburgh

On Fifth Avenue
The kingdoms of Kaufmann’s and Gimbels
beckoned me like
the call of this oceanless town.
Folk didn’t even speak to folk they know
passing by tall buildings on Fifth Avenues.
I swam in this:
broad deep brushstrokes in the life of a girl
Coming out of cocoon with shaved legs
Coming out of cocoon with makeup glorious
Coming out of cocoon popping that slang in time
to the tap, tap, tap, tap of the fancy flats I had just bought
from the Wild Pair
not the skinny, high heels of the year before.

Let me begin again.
Ghosts don’t speak out of time.
Old friends, classmates and mothers
marvel as if something were wrong
before which makes this after such a treat—
closing in on the edge of my insanity.
I don’t mind, much,
as it is a reign of my own design,
a sleight of speech
tucked in the side drawer of a mahogany dresser.
A duo that is one
with ocean breezes and Gullah cadence,
three rivers, skylines, The Point,
pluff mud, palm trees, and pralines: The opposite of me is me.