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The South Side

The fire swept our narrow house.
How can I wash away the stink?
Why do I have to keep recovering,
hoarding zero like a gem?

All day she tallies our singed books,
sheets with little scrawls of soot.
When will I scrub away the stain?
We lock the list in a Sentry safe.

This city is huge; a thousand fires.
At midnight ambulances surge and fade
to Saint Luke, Methodist, Maimonides.
She murmurs beside me, tense in a dream.

A siren whisks away its shriek.
The fire almost took her life.
Tense in a dream, our city is huge.
Who can count the changing lights?

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