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Frederick-Douglass Knowles II

I enter Cedar Grove’s office
and extend the slit of sunlight
peering through a cracked door
lock eyes with an old sexton
inscribing names of fallen souls.
I stammer hello. Utter the silent
K” in my last name. He flips
through an index of ancient files
brushes a layer of cumulus dust
from 1974, and engraves 56 R7 HK
onto the yellow surface of a Post-It.

I thank him for his time, slowly
exit his office and descend down
the hillside studying each pillar
in search of my father’s marker.
I pause in front of a pallid row
of ancient stone, flap the Post-It
over a cluster of ants, to unveil
the worn plaque of a Negroid
sailor. His last name mine.

Clouded tears recall the legacy
of an Airman recruit rigging chutes
for the USS Wright. A Native Son
swaying to Coltrane in Korean cafes
with cinnamon women, who never
choked on the plume of black smoke
sewn into his skin. Debating Truman’s
liberation of Yongsan that would churn
5 million Seouls into Korean dust.

Issue 10, 2018, pg. 18