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Delia Rainey

Questions for the Neighborhood

Delia Rainey

  1. People tied green plastic sashes on the tree trunks and the light posts at the end of spring. 

  2. Arranged in bows throughout the residential blocks, the material was light like disposable tablecloths from Party City. 

  3. A holiday could have occurred without my knowledge. 

  4. I knew one thing: someone in the neighborhood had died.

  5. Someone in the neighborhood was shot in their backyard and died. 

  6. We walked up and down the avenue, asking fellow nighttime walkers if they knew the reason for the green bows. The night felt damp, a moment before summer’s hold. Most people seemed to be inside or not around. 

  7. We asked the clean couple wearing athletic clothes who answered in monotone voices. We asked the laughing friend-group walking near the botanical gardens who had not yet heard.  

  8. Memorials need a visual aid, a flash of color, to prick us into remembering

  9. A singular body accounts for many strands of fear. 

  10. To view ourselves through surrounding narratives.

  11. Running around with ribbon, wrapping a block like a cheap birthday. 

  12. A police car marked “security” drifted laps around the street in dark silence. 

  13. News articles might say “a neighborhood honors shooting victim” or “a community remembers.” 

  14. If you look closer at the sidewalk, you will see shadows of different plants like dashes marking time. 

  15. Ask a neighbor: would you like to follow me to the clearing in the trees to see the eclipse? 

  16. In the neighborhood, we stared at objects for a long time until my eyes watered over:

  17. A package containing a witch’s wig on the park bench left after the Pagan festival. The bench had a small rectangular plaque for a friend who had died of a heroin overdose years ago. 

  18. A fairy house, sheltering a rubber rat among other toys, miniaturized in front of one of the mansion-like houses that dominate the street. 

  19. An oval-shaped infestation of ants on the sidewalk, maybe surrounding a piece of food. The ants were zinging in a black hole of a thousand specks like the world. 

  20. Later, we learned your neighbors, who had just recently bought the renovated three-story brick house next door, packed up and fled to the suburbs. 

  21. Catalyzed by death, lingering in the branches, an outcome too close.  

  22. The green sashes signify the man’s Irish descent, an article does say. How a color can salute a history, a person. 

  23. It’s true that in neighborhoods nearby, people are murdered by gun violence all summer long. Sometimes there are tribute items: stuffed animals sitting by a pole, a handmade sign with a centered photo. A group of people will release a group of balloons into the air, in hopes that particles will float away, up, and through. 

  24. For decades, a black photographer named Maurice used to own and live in the three-story brick house next door, and then he was bought out by developers, who sold the house to the white couple, but no one ever talks about stories like that, and no one leaves symbolic messages to announce it happened, and disappearances like this are not whispered about on the night walks through the row of mansions. Haunted, for sure.  

  25. Many green ribbons had fallen from the trees or columns or lamp posts. I saw one swinging in the air in the fist of a child ahead of us on our walk. Out of boredom, she let it go. 

  26. The bow flutters and becomes littered on the street like any other tossed plastic in public. 

  27. Everything turns to trash after all, or memory. 

  28. Private meanings can override the public meaning, or trade back and forth. The object never becomes completely meaningless. 

  29. The green signifies the pieces of land on a map.  The green signifies the earth is real. 

  30. I picked up the ribbon after the girl dropped it. We didn’t hang it back up on the allowed  posts. It now sits on your organ piano inside the house, not visible to the neighborhood anymore.

Delia Rainey lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of the chapbook CRUMBBOOK (Bottlecap Press Features 2021). Her writing recently appears in Midwest ReviewGrist JournalBrink, and others. Her band is called Dubb Nubb. 

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