Rollerskating with Jesus on the Grand Concourse

I rollerskate on the Concourse

past art deco buildings

and bodegas

I use the strengh of my legs to push me forward

the bend of my knees for momentum

the gaze towards the courthouse to keep my balance

Yet, I fall

(No, I did not wear any protective gear.

I just rolled with my faith in myself.)

My knee, its skin scrapped off

Blood dripping.

The scrape must have covered my whole knee.

My brother tells me good, you are learning

He kneels down and looks at the scrape.

He walks me to an open hydrant and takes a handkerchief out

Of his back pocket to clean my knee.

(Yes, we used water from an open hydrant,

No, I am not sure where that handkerchief was

And no, we did not use Neosporin.)

He tells me to sit on the edge oft he sidewalk, next to his Sony boombox.

He increased the volume.

His afro looked like Jesus halo –

Give me a ho, you got your funky bus fare

Ho – ho – ho – ho

The wheels grew from his feet,

moonwalking then spins, first on both feet,

then on one leg, making undulations with

unseen lines

He spins and spins

Bip bop bam, alakazam,

like a record

after a strong scratch release

crossing his legs with his body tilted on one side

then switching direction with his body tilted the other direction

(Yes, my brother fell. Even the best of them have to fall, right?)

It was a pepple that made him fall.

He smiles at himself, looks at me

With the same smile, and tells me

We all have to fall sometime,

but we learn when we get back up.

I took his hand out for me to get up.

I took his hand and we skated

My Jesus – my brother – and me.



Poem: Mercy Tullis-Bukhati

Supported by Gail Longstroth