from what i.ve heard, when i was four i almost
pulled a boiling pot of spaghetti on my head.
my friend sp told me this happened to some one
he knows. the burns across his chest formed
into scar tissue & a story for the ladies.
i spent years re-imagining and retelling my self
the story – what had & hadn.t happened.
i reached up toward our stove, grasped the pot
handle, stumbled; water and steam tumble into
the fire which flairs up and slaps down on me
collapsed to the floor — hot metal, scalding water,
half cooked spaghetti, and the burned boy.
bill came in – just in time to stop me. “baraka,
no.” he sat me down at the table and told me
a story, then set the table & called my mother
in for dinner; where they spoke about the office
and the lawyers each had suffered through.
it must have been the tesseract – from a wrinkle
in time, which later allowed me to navigate a route
back through that story. entrance to a new saga,
out from the distant stories of my father and kid
napping; a door cracking on its hinges with terry
on the other side & his screams for my mother
to let him in. locks, padlocks, hinges braced;
locks i didn.t know the name of closing our
apartment door, even as no one was trying to
get in. we received few visitors. my mother,
the type of woman to sit at home. privacy was
a form of security – as was knowing we were
poor, even after we didn.t have a right to be.
at some point we entered the middle class.
but, upper middle or lower ? or middle middle.
the most boring and worst option, within our
suburban ghetto. later, some of those kids
would grow up – wheaton became the town
of filippino restaurants, colombian food,
cuisine from argentina; little shops, all of them.
& wealthy, if not hip, suburbanites might trudge
across town for a quick bite. but growing up
there was only wheaton mall & teenagers from
the right part of town would hear parental
warnings to stay away from the fights there;
once a boy was murdered in pumphrey.s park
for his jacket and his shoes, so people said.
they changed the name. every so often we.d
hear stories of murderers just up the road
or down the street. not a dangerous town.
just a neighborhood, with a few haitians,
some ecuadoreans; catholic schools, parks.
i came to catholic school in the third grade.
it was years before i had a black girl in my
class. college years. i wore a uniform a lot
growing up. these days, if some one says
“dress to impress” i don.t show up. as far
as i can tell, my parents spent double on
my brother.s high school education what
they spent on mine for all of high school
and college combined. and we went to a lot
of the same schools. but i guess we always
knew we were poor, and i know my parents
worked hard every day, and maybe bill
clinton did something right.
i don.t make money. i watch it move
around me and rarely grab after it. i went
to school with a lot of money – money
that never learned to shower, or who
did the minimum to get by; money that
did or didn.t want you to know about it.
private money, secret money, foreign money.
dollars and yen wandering thru the mall.
i guess i don.t know what money is. growing
up i thought i was poor, thought i was in a city;
waiting til i grew up so i could do what i want.
now, i do mostly what i want & i realize i may
have had more assets as a child than i would
possibly hope for now. in other words, if you
could go back far enough, you might say that
i was liquid.