Why Won’t You Let Go Frankie Beverly?

Chrisshara Robinson
She was twelve and we were walking
to the corner store
hand in hand,
our Justice skirts swaying
to the tip tap rhythm of our white dress shoes.

The bills Pop-Pop gave her poked through
the front of her tank top.
She stuck them in there,
just like Nana does with her keys,
all proud smiles and feigned maturity.

She traded in her beaded braids
for a frizzy press-out last week.
That was the first time
I was alone on Sunday
since that time she got strep last year.

Mr. Chawly’s boombox sat in its usual place
atop the milk crate
blaring ‘70s soul jams.
The men gathered around it
tipped their hats at us walking past.

She didn’t get our usual Top Pop and Skittles
that day. She got iced tea
and sunflower seeds,
that was what she
saw the other big kids in the shop buying.

The cashier on the clock must have been new
because he jerked the register drawer
open all the way.
I just stared when she giggled
at his frantic attempt to catch it before it dropped.

She opened the seeds on the way
back down the street
And tilted the bag
in my direction after taking a few.
I didn’t want any.
 
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