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Sunday, January 26, 2020


by Mark Danowsky

Soon after Romeire Brown heard the news of Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash Sunday, he made a beeline for a spot he passes often: Lower Merion High School. Brown, 29, laid a bouquet of daisies in Lakers purple and gold in honor of the 41-year-old basketball superstar, a native son and 1996 Lower Merion High grad. The gym at his alma mater is named Bryant Gymnasium. Photo credit: ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER —The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 26, 2020

I get a scheduled pickup for Wanda
at 5:05pm, the end of her shift

I pull up to the long driveway that leads
to a Lower Merion mansion
& Wanda says, as she gets in the car,
“Thank God you're here, there's a fox”
& I turn & sure enough there's a fox
in the yard skulking about 50 feet away
I say, "Don't worry
foxes are afraid of people"
She says, "The young children play in the yard"
& I concede children are not safe from a fox

I cannot help but ask if Wanda has heard
the sad news—
She says, "I'm trying to forget"
& I pretend I understand

I ask Wanda if she plans to watch the Grammy's tonight
She says, "Maybe”
Maybe, because she's "up to date with her other shows"
I ask about these other shows
& Wanda tells me she watches
"The Haves and The Have Nots"

I reflect on this as I drive Wanda
to West Philadelphia where
I was not born & raised
& so I do not share where I was—
that Kobe & I went to the same high school
that that's my life
—even though this tragedy has made me
want to express my connection to place—
the bubble that is The Main Line
—a world apart

We sit in quiet awhile
again, I return to last night
watching King James unseat Kobe
& the good love shown in response

What crazy coincidence
this next day
& yet that is the awful reminder
this game has no rules
& cares not for sportsmanship

Driving down 52nd
we pass a homeless man standing
in the road holding a cup

Wanda says, "I mind my business"
"Keep my mouth zipped"
"People are too crazy now"

I say, "I know, I try to do the same"

So I try for gratitude after dropping off Wanda
at 52nd & Race
at nightfall, a tourist
I return to the felt safety of Lower Merion
where nothing is supposed to happen

Mark Danowsky is a poet / writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). He’s Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.