Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Chicago Was To Me

Lines patterned and weaved into a grid
A blanket of numbers and names to give me security
My Chicago
Home stretched out like a Cartesian plane
Daddy’s compass and taxi cab with Mommy’s numbers
Gave Baby her way round the town
Segregation and classism never bothered me
‘Cause we had just enough money
And my neighbors looked like me
Though Mom said not to swim in the Park District pool
‘Those kids have no home training,’ she said
And I followed that
The sweet smart big little girl with the weird name
I knew my times table by kindergarten
But also loved
Red Kool Aid
Snow cones from the corner
Sandwich bags full of candy
25 cent bags of Hot Flamins with nacho cheese
Nachos with ground beef and cheese made with Doritos
Jumping singles
Orange mixtapes
But that little girl grew up with four eyes wide open
Understanding why Mom wouldn’t let her walk three blocks home from the Green Line
Understanding why all the Aunties and Uncles never came to visit
Understanding why the Diasporan kids all live on the North Side
Living in Kmart aisles lit up with blue light specials
We hold on to what is so dear so tight
As much as I love Chicago
She can be a frigid bitch
So she taught me to pack my things
And never look back

At the stranger who looked so familiar

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