Lines Composed at 34 North Park Street, on Certain Memories of My White Grandmother Who Loved Me and Hated Black People Like Myself. July 15, 2017

Shane McCrae

America I was I think I was

Seven I think or anyway I prob-

ably was     nine     I anyway was nine


And riding in the back     seat of our tan

Datsun 210     which by the way Amer-

ica I can’t believe     Datsun is just


Gone     anyway     America I was

Riding in the back     seat we were we my grand-

mother and I were passing the it must


Have been a mall     but I have tried     and can’t

Remember any malls in Austin at

The time America but do I really


Remember Austin really     I remember

This thing that happened    once when I was passing

A mall in Austin so     the mall so Austin


But then and when America will my

Grandmother be     my memories of her her-

self be replaced by memories of just


Her presence near     important or unusu-

al things that happened does that happen will

That happen we     America we were


Anyway passing     on a city street

But next to it the     mall and actually

I might have been in the front seat actually


And maybe it was     winter all the windows

Were rolled up maybe or at least the one

Right next to me     in the front seat Amer-


ica when for     no reason I could see the

Window exploded     glass swallowed me     the way

A cloudburst swallows a car     glass and a


Great stillness     flying glass and stillness both

Together     then the stillness left     and I

Jumped either over my     seat or between


The seats      into the back America

Or neither     here I might just be remem-

bering the one real accident I’ve ever


Been in I was     a child still maybe seven

Or nine and we      were in an intersec-

tion hit     and I for sure jumped then my grand-


mother and I again already my

Memories of the Datsun breaking seem

More solid than my memories of her


America     but I remember her

Mobile home filling up with trash     until

She couldn’t walk through any room     and still she


Walked through her rooms she walked the way I walk

Through stores     suspicious     and aloof watched e-

ven by the products I consume consumed


By you America     O cloud of glass

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block and In the Language of My Captor, which won the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Prize for Poetry, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the William Carlos Williams Award, and was nominated for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. He has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and a fellowship from the NEA. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.