And Our City Was Ours

And when the Outers left there was so much space.
We took to our parking lots, our downtown plazas.

Some of us drank their wine and sat in their cafes
without fear or the cold blue watch. We cruised our island,

perched barefoot on our stone whitewashed bridge.
Without the Outers designing their cul-de-sacs or

plowing up our lots, or tearing down our houses, we
tricked out our cars, confetti lit our bikes and blasted

Blade Icewood from our kitchen windows.
And yes, we still slept uncomfortably bent

around the lumps of our mattresses. We awoke
in the same nightmare sweat, and reached

for one another’s thighs in our darkness
Who knew there was another kind of sleep?

The Outers had mythologized our city, a theater of tragedy.
No one told us it called for sadness. Without them

we licked sauce from our fingers. While they screamed
about war, and loss and stolen Amazon boxes

we contented ourselves with dance battles.
We laughed at the Outers

and their ill-preparedness for drought. We
didn’t clock in at work. We made each other gifts

of vegetable bundles and lavender oil. We did not serve
the Outers. We returned to our river. We left our houses

and threw white parties in our black, black, black as asphalt streets

Nandi Comer is the Michigan Poet Laureate, an award-winning writer and Detroiter.

Part of our 2024 Fiction Issue.

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