Deaf Child at Play

There’s this simple yellow street sign planted into cement

that’s diamond shaped and decades old. The paint’s chipped

and post rusted. It states: DEAF CHILD AT PLAY.

There’s a ghost of a child on this block

on Westfield Avenue in Camden. A street lined

with abandoned businesses and boarded up houses.

There’s the phantom toddler who plays with a ball

by itself in the center of the street.

Cars pass by, the drivers unaware that down the hill

there’s the vacant schoolyard in a neighborhood

where so many dreams have died along with their bearers

who will never be recorded, sufferings annihilated by time.

There’s the pain separated from the body

and minds floating through space.

The sign is still there in spite of the deaf child being a dead child.

There it is, alone at play for eternity on the border of reality.

An ambiguous figure. A toddler with a long blouse and bowl cut.

There is the figure entrenched in distance.

The city knows the sign must still stand to warn motorists

not to kill the invisible child. The child can’t hear even if they’re ethereal.

There is the pulse of the street and the ability to bear witness

to every personal tragedy regardless of how major or minor.

Four corners abandoned. The center filled with traffic.

There is the traffic of brain matter released as energy

into a place anyone can see, but cannot comprehend.

To a space no ship can reach. To a time where no machine can travel.

There is the street that can be stood on, but not understood.

At least not until you’re dead yourself

then that deaf child will be visible.

There is where the living will be phantoms

and the city that looks dead in life will resurrect

from the thoughts of a dead deaf child at play.

There you will know why the dreams of the dead still touch the living

as if those that are alive are stiff bodies in a morgue.

There is the reason why the city must warn the living not to harm the dead.

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