Disputes flicker on and off
throughout the city. As the sun
goes away the alley between two
apartment buildings turns
blue except for a blinding
rectangle of yellow light
by the emergency exit below.

I’ve noticed the comforting
noise of old tv leaking
from an opposite window.
Westerns: Cowboys and Indians,
or courtroom dramas. I imagine
a grandma or grandpa alone
in an easy chair before the light
of a wooden, rabbit-eared
box. A doily and an afghan,
ashtray on the chair arm:
that’s how the elderly
watch tv on tv.

Of course it could be anyone—
alone with only old films to watch.

I can’t decide where the screams
come from. Second floor
of the other building? A child’s
cries sometimes scorch
the alley and the sunset.

When the voice dies away
I turn off the light and press
my ear to the window screen.

Shadows of sounds—clap
clap clap thump: are these
unusual noises to hear?

The crying may still be there,
its frequency obscured
by a closed door, an airplane’s
droning overhead, or applause
from a game-show. The crier
may be in a room far
from windows making a song

of sobbing—telling stories
to keep herself alone.

About the Author

Alexandra Bentayou grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has an MFA in creative writing from New York University but this is her first publication since college. She currently lives in the Bronx and is employed as a social worker.