May 25, 2012
She sits on the top step of her porch, legs on either side of her boyfriend who sits below her, his back turned. She has a jar of hair grease beside her, a comb in her hand, and her infant son in his rocker. Music blares down Mt. Ida Road like it is coming from next door. On this sleepy afternoon, she takes her time pulling out each of his fuzzy braids and replacing them with fresh, neatly parted cornrows. Afterwards, the two sit back, listening to the music and the sound of girls squealing at the Ronan Park playground. Then boom! She tenses up and looks first at her son. Boom! She turns her gaze to her boyfriend. Boom! He doesn’t flinch, then shrugs. “Firecrackers,’’ he says calmly. She exhales, reassured, and leans on the rail “Oh good,’’ she says and goes back to savoring the May afternoon.