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The Hollow Square

Claire Millikin


Charlottesville, Virginia, Lee Park/Emancipation Park/Market Street Park


Here, you bought a band-aid for your five-year-old child, walking the town center in one-hundred-degree August sun. He'd barely nicked his finger but cried like a baby, Put a band-aid on it, mama! and you'd just moved to town and had nothing in the house. Also bought pizza slices, the cheese slipping from the crust. Here, on a baby-blue October afternoon, you shared coffee with a man who said, I hope you survive this place, and you felt confused; you'd just gotten the university job and were so proud. He was half Lakota and said mistrust made sense in America. Here, you walked in high heels through snow to the Greek church to see your friend be ordained and the celibates held a cloth over his face to signify the blindness of the fall. Through the ceremony he couldn't see until the end, all this time the other men led him. Here you took your teenage kid for burgers the day of the election which was also his birthday and the heavy sky was already weeping, and a family in the booth next to yours kept saying, Él va a ganar, and they were already weeping. Here, rioters tore the sky apart, in August heat, and it will never be rejoined, a car hitting a man so he flew, like he was an angel, his body curved to wing, the car also hitting a woman who never rose again. Here, you walked past the old slave-block, dodging its shadow, that first day you lived in the town, walked to the drugstore to buy band-aids with a funny puppy on the box, to make your child smile. Pressed a band-aid to the invisible wound. There!

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