The Ground by Rowan Ricardo Phillips


In the beginning was this surface. A wall. A beginning.
Tonight it coaxed music from a Harlem cloudbank. It freestyled
A smoke from a stranger's coat. It stole thinned gin.
It was at the edge of its beginnings but outside
Looking in. The lapse-blue facade of Harlem Hospital is
Like a starlit lake in the midst of Lenox Avenue.
Tonight I touched the tattooed skin of the building I was born in
And because tonight is curing the beginning let me through.
And everywhere was blurring halogen. Love the place that
   welcomed you.

"Tonight," excerpted from The Ground by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, to be published in June 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright 2012 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. All rights reserved.