Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The street

You say street, and right away East St. Louis rises up--
my period started there, my serial falling in love.
My dog was run over on that street
but the eminent milestones of my life--
did not happen here, they turned up on other streets. 
This is the street where I first encountered perverts, 
where my mother beat me when a boy 
walked me home, 
where my father was always glaring,
no matter what he was up to--shaving, 
planting sunflowers, breathing--he glared. 
I think he hated me. 
Otherwise it was an ordinary street.
Yet I remember it more easily than the venerable 
streets that followed.  
The scent of soft tar. 
Racing Tommy to the Notre Dame locker room. 
The football team's moist, slabs of muscle. 
A joyful Saturday in Theresa's grandmother's attic. 
She found a suitcase packed with holy cards 
and shared them 50-50. 
I laughed a lot on that street. Almost every day. 
My little dog was run over there. 
I know I said that but it keeps coming back. 
After school, I had to walk past the ice cream store
but never had the money to buy a cone.
It wasn’t a street where I had all I wanted 
but when I walked it, I expected to have it all someday.
I fully believed I would become the Elvis 
of my generation.