Across the Street
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
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