To those who come after, this is the law of the town—
the South Side is not a place, but a state of being,
a song, the candy lady circling around
the blocks with walking tacos, Kool-Aid unfreezing
in Styrofoam cups. Happiness costs so little
for those who are willing to buy. And everyone
has a name; the man who drives the ice-cream truck, the nickel-
and-dime bag boys with Frootie Rolls lining one
side of their jackets’ insides—Mr. Bradley,
Joshua ’nem, their presence steady as statues.
How much of this city is flavor? The thick and sappy
taste of too sweet, too quick to melt, the cashew
crunch of Garrett popcorn mix? It’s sensory;
the act of remembering, of making memory.
From I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times (Soft Skull, 2023) by Taylor Byas. Copyright © 2023 by Taylor Byas. Used with the permission of the Soft Skull Press, an imprint of Catapult LLC.