Across the Street

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 19:08 -- jkrakes

When I was seven I thought the worst thing in my world 

was not that my parents fought and my mother hit.

It was that my older sister was kicked out of the white deli

she was doing a project on Poland

and wanted to buy a flag and some books,

proud to live in this neighborhood

Mom waited outside with me,

my sister cried after

I remember her face because it's broken shards reflected at me

and my face was shattered too.


We had pizza that night even though it wasn't Friday.

on the weekend we got in my Dad's Mustang

and drove 2 neighborhoods away to a library 

kids like me wandered around the aisles

It wasn't that they were also seven

or that they came with their sisters too

It was that they had parents who were different colors like mine. 

My sister got her books on Poland 

on the way home we got ice cream. 

For most of my childhood I would not walk

in front of that deli.

I did want to see her disdain. 


When I was seventeen I thought the worst thing in my world 

was not that my parents were divorced and my mother gone.

It was that the woman who made my sister cry 

still worked at that deli

even after she threw several other kids out

for not being white

and shot Dad a dirty look for being German.

But then one day

instead of feeling angry and lost when I looked across the street

I felt pity. 

She will never know how amazing my sister is

the way she brightens your day with just her voice

and her smile lightens your heartaches.


When I was twenty-two I thought the worst thing in my world 

was not that I was unemployed and that money was tight.

It was that she will always be a




I walk past that deli every day

I try to catch her eye.

To show her she is not scary,

she is just wrong

and my sister is so very right.

Sometimes I wave and that makes her walk away from the window.

We both got old

only one of us grew up



This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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