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FU or Ain’t That Some Shit

There comes a time in a woman’s 42 years of life where she has to take a stand.

Where she has to confront this love/hate relationship she has because, “Being in love with you ain’t cheap.” Now, I’ve seen you during all kinds of seasons, from dusk until dawn…we’ve lived in the projects, uptown, downtown, in different boroughs, in tiny apartments to beautiful homes in the suburbs (the property tax alone).

We’ve had boys that are turning into men. But that’s when I had to take my first stand. I told you, “These are black boys.” And while I love our museums and theatres they may like sports and take to the grit. You say, “They may even fall in love with frolicking on the train, enjoying their independence.” They are tall. The cops may give them a hard time. I’m talking to you New York City. You greedy bitch.

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Pythagorean Theorem

I want to wrap my Words around your Pythagorean Theorem

 

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This Is How We Heal…

Imperfectly.

I woke up one morning looking at the inside of my forearm. It was more like I was stretching my arm and noticed something was missing. I stared and stared, and could barely see the remnants of a burn from when I was little. I burned it either from an iron or a radiator pipe. The pain though was impressed upon my memory since this was before the age of five. It left a nasty scar that faded after several years but has almost disappeared decades later. I got use to my quiet companion for so long that I didn’t realize I loved that thinner piece of speckled flesh. It was first treated to by my mother’s hands. Then later by me as I grew. It has been cleansed, moisturized, massaged, exfoliated and this process has been repeated several times over. But first it did come with a sacrifice albeit an unintended one. Then well what was I to do? I already cried. My mother did comfort me. What was left to do was to accept that it was now a part of me. It wasn’t a choice I made. It was accidental but there it was with me day in and day out.

In my 30’s, I found myself a single mother, divorced, very hurt. Was it my fault? Was it his? Was it accidental? I was overwhelmed by all of these questions that I intentionally took time away from getting into a committed relationship other than myself and my boys. Then what do you think happened? I met someone.

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The Purple Crayon

“Your mother cut me.”

These were words I didn’t understand coming out of my aunt’s mouth. The plastic covering on my grandparent’s couch stuck to my skin as I reached up to get a better look. Her outstretched hand was holding bloody green pieces of glass.

“Huh?”

It was the same glass Ma tried to give me and my cousins earlier. I thought she was playing and pretending it was money. It didn’t make sense for my mother to cut her best friend. That summer, I graduated from DeWitt Head Start’s kindergarten class of ‘79. I even knew what my aunt was holding wasn’t money.  I wondered if Ma thought she was like Harold in Harold and the Purple Crayon. Maybe she needed money, so she had made herself some.

Harold and the Purple Crayon was one of my favorites that Ma read to me.

I could hear her voice reading to me, even then, as I adjusted myself on her shoulder to better see the white pages and purple lines the little boy drew, “One evening after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.”

“Ma how old is Harold?”

“I don’t know. Maybe four.”

She continued.

“There wasn’t a moon, but Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight.”

I forgot it was a book and joined Harold as he reached up on his tippy-toes to the empty white sky and created his crescent moon. The shape was familiar. I looked up towards Ma. There was the familiar crescent shape on her left chin. It was a keloid in a lighter shade of cocoa than the rest of her face.

“Ma, how’d you get that boo-boo?”

“Your father. He cut me with a broken bottle.”

I scrunched up my face.

“Why would he do that?”

“He didn’t want a baby. He didn’t want me to have you.”

It was her way—honest, free of cadence. I didn’t know at the time, but  it was her preparing me early for life.

 

As I was now standing in my grandparent’s living room, I repeated to my aunt, “Why would she do that?” “I don’t know. She really thinks its money.” My aunt’s face said, wounded. It was everything I could not understand or express. But what I could feel was the sinking feeling in my own heart.

I heard the blare of sirens. It was different. It was familiar to hear sirens on the Lower East Side. What was different about it was that it was getting closer. What was different about it was that it stopped in front of the Gompers housing projects. Everything seemed to be happening quickly. I didn’t realize that the ambulance was for Ma until I saw the men in uniforms leading her out of my grandparents’ front door. The chimes on the door cried out for me because I didn’t know how to. I was looking out the window in the living room, but it felt as if I was on the street with our neighbors, hearing them whispering to each other and sometimes loudly wondering, “What the hell happened this time on Pitt Street?”

“Isn’t that one of the Herrings?”

What was different was that my mother was being led into an ambulance.

It was autumn. It was Pitt Street. It was decided. I would be staying with my grandparents.

*Excerpt from Raining Sunshine. Continue to read in Promethean spring 2017.