The music seemed to rise from the blades of grass. It moved in the sunlight that shone on Camden’s streets and flooded our open windows and doorways. It danced with the breeze. Memorial Day had arrived, and the world cried out in joy. Its soundtrack was reggaeton. 

The familiar beat accompanied by unfamiliar words began around 9 a.m. and continued throughout the day. I could hear it from my bed, at the kitchen table, by the mailbox at the front door and while I hung clothes from the line in the backyard. It was in the air, it was the air – made audible by a day too beautiful to be contained in silence.

“KELLY,” my roommate shouted from outside my window. I looked down on the backyard and saw that the old clothesline had snapped under the weight of my wet laundry. I ran outside, and held up my string of clothing, while Yvelisse tied the frayed end to the neighbor’s fence. We brushed off my laundry and straightened some shirts on the line. 

I stepped back to survey our work. On the other side of the fence sat an old rusty truck our neighbor intends to fix up and keep along with his other vintage cars. Down the street a rooster crowed. I felt the music pulse through me. Looking at the clothesline clinging to the chain link fence, it seemed like the city I’ve called my home for the past two years. Faded, frayed and worn by forces it couldn’t control, not quite making it, but still finding a way to hold up. Still aching to live. 

The reggaeton swirled around us – me, Yvelisse, the untouchable beauty of the grass and the clouds, and the imperfect clothesline in our imperfect city – its rhythm holding us all together. In the midst of this, I closed my eyes and felt God.

Kelly Zientek-Baker, FVM Camden 2006-2008