papers

Sat, 07/06/2013 - 00:01 -- les

I wear a light blue dress with white Mary Janes and my hair is straightened

It’s my mother’s big day we all look nice, she’s graduating

 

Graduating…

Damn…

That was Iowa.

Scrapping snow from the sides of her Mercury

My father wipes his head.

He’s bald now and the snow reflects off of his skull

I see his brain pulsing

Whiskey rivers cutting through a used up cranium

Serotonin takes a waltz with Johnny Walker through the land of mediocre.

He’s happy now.

And lives up north its snows hard so he has to heat the car before the leaves

Which means he can’t talk much.

Dial tone.

 

BUT, it’s my mother’s graduation

My sister pulls at my head

I look up to cry and catch a strand in my eye.

Her hair is long

Her strands are stranded

She’s stranded.

We left her all by herself on the tip of the peninsula

So she got hitched and flicked the family switch off.

Turn the lights off it saves money.

Save money and get a half price maid.

Wanna learn how to be good at hide and seek?

Become 1 in 13 million.

An invisible number.

Magic.

 

My older brothers picking his fro but it’s stopped growing

And I think its cause the futon he sleeps on

In our two bedroom apartment with six people and one bathroom,

Cuts his ends off.

We’re typical. But, I’m too small to know too small

And he’s too big to fit in a school chair in the back of a Durban public school

He’s the class fool and stands in line at customs.

He’s been denied but, don’t worry it’s customary.

He was never American no matter how many years he was here.

 

And instead my twin and I make cakes in the microwave

Everyone has a job and since we’re not pulling our weight

It’s our turn to baby sit us.

We’re almost ten and neither of us fuss much.

But, I’ve got behavioral issues and sharpie black finger nails

And he’s falling behind so we get a tutor.

He likes to read. He reads a lot. He’s got a way with fixing things

He’s small so he reaches those hard places.

Like an underground boat that will never be on a map.

And now he’s a sailor Cause he’s trying to get them papers.

He looks odd in the color Navy.

 

We dress poor so it looks like we’re refugee and take a road trip to Nebraska

We’d like to ask ya, sir, if it’s alright with you Uncle Sam,

If you take away our dignity and makes us beg.

Please.

We know no other home.

 

That’s the Midwest.  But soon it’ll be Texas and Canada and last week it was South Africa and Kenya.

But it’s my Mother’s graduation today and she’s walking across the stage.

She’s thinking about Kakamega

She’s thinking about Nairobi University

She’s thinking about Rachel and her sister.

She’s thinking about that white man during the coup.

She’s thinking about the lottery.

Hoping her 9 digits will turn green and

She’ll start getting lean off of those 3 degrees we moved for.

But, with a giant foreign attached to her vocal cords she’ll never get fat,

At the same rate as the 24 year old girl whose guilty silver spoon just wants to give back.

 

Papers.

It’s 2004 and my mother is graduating.

My father is not drunk.

My sister still exists.

My brother is smart.

My twin can’t swim.

And I still love this  country.

 

Comments

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741