at her kitchen sink.
I stand beside her jabbering, So
if I’m 10 that means you and daddy
were married 11 years ago!
Her head swivels.
Stop that stupid talk!
(I didn’t know the truth till later.)
For this, indeed for all her odd
mutations, I never blame myself.
We come from different worlds.
Hers in ruins behind her,
mine right here in front of her.
Still I do my best to please.
Bought her a little St Theresa,
(her favorite saint)
with my babysitting pay.
Oh how she hates Kool-Aid stains
on my shirt, the sound of bubbles
popping in my mouth, that immodest
laugh I got from her, how my hair
sweats on my head like seaweed.
Pull that hair off your face!
Once in a rage, she hacked it off.
For weeks, I wore headscarves to school.
That’s what you get for being so American!
It wasn’t just her mood talking.
It was the old world singing in her then.