I’ll never forget the face of the man
standing on the sidewalk as I rode
in the backseat of a car with my cousin
Nilo driving. Nilo, who had the same
genetic condition jazz singer Jimmy Scott
had and who though he was a grown man
and practicing physician was the size of
and looked like a nine year old boy.
I was around twelve or thirteen at the time
so I actually looked older than Nilo
and I’ll never forget the man’s face.
The way his eyes bulged out like
a mad clown when Nilo drove past.
The way the man stood on the median
above Dupont Circle, my brother
in the front seat of the car, me in
the back and little Nilo at the wheel.
The way the man’s mouth opened
and the way I would have heard my first
out-loud-in public “What the fuck?”
if Nilo hadn’t been playing full blast
on his car stereo Jerry Vale’s version of
“My Woman, My Woman, My Wife”—
the lamest song Marty Robbins
ever wrote in his life.
Photograph by Jose Padua