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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 1030
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Someone I Know
after Lucille Clifton
As he was walking by our porch, one of my aunts whispered to her sister that the man I'd never seen before had died and been brought back to life. The other aunt frowned, sucked her teeth, and warned her sister about saying such things so loud the children could hear. I couldn't be sure what I'd heard, and, since I knew not to ask, I waited for the next time the man passed by our porch.
Everybody must have some kind of father somewhere, the gang of us figured. And we walked my cousin's father into imagination so we could ask him what it was like to go away so far.
All day one day, my cousin and I had been riding our bikes, and a church we could swear was never there appeared, and inside the cool place a man waited alone and dressed in his casket. We sat on the first pew, dangling our legs. We looked close at the man, but didn't know him.
When those who had known Lazarus saw him again, after the long days of their doubt, they couldn't help but feel he was not the one he had been.
Forrest Hamer is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and a practicing psychologist in Oakland, CA. Call & Response (1995) was his first collection of poems, followed in 2000 by Middle Ear.