Windsor Terrace (1990) by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib.
First published in THIS. magazine’s Issue BLK.
Around the flickering old box that Jason’s granddad lifted from the corner of Aven and Barnett, we huddle our limbs to watch Mike Tyson’s legs become stiff oak before he falls at the feet of Buster Douglas, who used to live right over there on Linden. Where, legend has it, he dunked so hard in a high school game that the air felt like a spaceship took off right here in the streets and the ground ain’t stopped vibrating since. Some nights, we press our bodies to it and feel the hum run through the dark fat of our small legs, rise and tell our mothers we can fill their fists with gold one day, buy our way out of this persistent stew of cold and sleeplessness. On the television, Tyson is crawling around on the canvas like I’ve seen a man crawl on the living room floor, praying for enough change to keep a baby’s modest stomach full for another night and maybe these two things are both a survival of violence. A man is shown his own blood and plummets to the earth before trying to force his body to rise once more. When people pay money to watch, we call this sport. When people spill from their apartments into a dim alley or a decaying school yard to watch, we call this the ghetto. But the cheering is the same. The excitement one gets in watching a body that is not theirs twitching in the dirt has never left us, ever since we watched the first funeral roll slow down the block. And now Tyson is trying to force his mouthpiece between his unhinged and begging mouth while reaching for the ropes and Jason’s grandfather’s trembling voice is whispering
get up boy,
and he is almost looking past the television, into the night.