The Wharf

Sandra Beasley

I wake to Split lint coffin from which the body comes. Who are you now? I wake to jackhammers and the beep-beep of a heavy vehicle in reverse. I wake to the slow swing of a crane, its pudendum chain dangling. Cranes flock by the dozen. One company hangs a crescent moon, lit at night sometimes white and sometimes pink or blue. They strip “SEU” from the Metro exit and note that only an idiot would locate Southeastern University in the Southwest quadrant. They rename us “Waterfront-The Wharf.” The first thing Wharf developers do is brick a plaza and buy chaise lounges. The second thing they do is annex the fish market. No more stink of cod, they promise. The fish market sues. Fountains are in our future. Three concert venues are in our future. Twenty restaurants are in our future. The bicycle repair shop will serve pour-over coffee. Boats huddle to their docks. The demolition signs at Fourth and M promised a church. That church is now rectangular and eleven stories tall, but they’ll put a house of worship by the exercise room. I’m learning to lower a shade — not enough to keep workmen from seeing me naked, but enough to keep me from seeing them as they see me naked. The Wharf promises fireworks, and people bring blankets to the slope along Maine Avenue. They hear fizz and bang, and see nothing. A new building blocks the sky.

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