Are You Like Me?

biracial1

Are You Like Me
By Robert Esnard ’14

Are you like me?
Do you like the fall?
I love the word fall
Because where I grew up fall fell from the heavens
In colors on the trees that were cemented in a row
To line the sidewalk as I would go
On my walk home from school.
Kicking cans on city streets
Still sounds like music to me
With the bass as my foot steps
And the stereo sounds as crunchy leaves and
Crackling glass over the concrete where most other kids would find grass.
If you are like me then surely you see the beauty
In the big kids on the play ground who bum cigarettes
Off of high high schoolers
Because buying Newports imparts the value of a dollar faster
Than most kids can holler at a real dealer.
Thereby ensuring that no pipsqueaks got played by druggies – like pips on dominos.
And no matter how cold one got no one would want to say no to a
Frio frio en parcha o coco.
If you have the beat of the street bumping like Biggie in your headphones
Bringing heat to and from heart,
Then you might be like me.
Are you like me?
Are you white? Because I’m not.
And I will not be defined by ugly words like race,
Which generalize and marginalize my heritage.
Mine is not simply a white face.
Because when winter brought out the Salvation Army Santas
Ringing silver bells for copper coins
My grandma began cooking Christmas dinner,
And in my family we eat pernil.
With tostones
And as always, arroz.
But the middle school kids didn’t understand because
My white skin was bland to them.
So clearly I could not be party to the majority party of minorities
Because no one knows cubanos with hands as pale as these.
To everyone, I was white.
Snow white.
But, in the city Snow
Was only white when she laid out in a line,
And was taken in not on tongues in the open mouths of children looking up
But snorted by streetwalkers and hood rats who had had enough
Of trying to catch happiness.
Snow was only white
When she fell directly from the sky,
I only knew snow as slush:
Brown, and beaten into liquid state by public busses and gypsy cabs.
That’s the only kind of snow I ever felt like.
If you have culture and no race,
Then you might be like me.
Are you like me?
Does spring bring back
Memories of moving
From apartment to apartment
Always having a place to live,
But never having a home?
For me spring was always moving time
As if spring-cleaning meant
Sweeping up our life
Under an area rug
Rolling it up and relocating it to a new floor
On another floor.
In the city, the same spring birds sing different songs to each other
Because Mother Nature knew
Too well that the people on my block spoke
In too many tongues for language to be universal.
Some birds don’t even have a song,
Their voices were taken away by their parents because they weren’t singing in tune.
My parents never heard their parents speak Spanish
Until I started learning in school
And wanted to practice
Because their parents didn’t think American children should speak
The language of the island long left behind.
I never really got to start over the way I wanted.
I was left to grow like a dandelion
Similar enough to look like I belonged in the grass
But, ultimately just a weed.
Colorful enough to stand out like the flowers
But, ultimately just a weed.
Always wary of my blue eyes
Especially at the time of the Ides
When I would freckle
I had no safe space on this cultural divide.
If you are not sure who you are like,
Then you might be like me.
Are you like me?
Probably,
In the sense that “summer”
Sounds like “school’s out,”
To virtually everyone.
Unlike most of the kids on my block,
But most like most of the kids here,
I went to summer camp.
And my parents never let me
Worry that we probably couldn’t afford it.
Because I worked hard in school
And they wanted to teach me that working
More meant earning more
Even, before, I was old enough to get a job.
And summer always seemed better
Than ever
Because my skin would tan
And people might start to believe me
When I told them that every Tuesday
I went to Abuela’s house, off of Gun Hill Road.
I love summer because
Piragua de fresa reminds me that
You might be like me.
Because even though you
Eat strawberry shaved ice
We both know the flavor we savor
With different words, that I love,
And the color that runs in both of our veins.
In the summer
We’re all just sweaty, sticky fingered children.
In the summer I like me,
Because I am like you,
And we are the same.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: The AAM, Writer's Corner

Author:Black Praxis Magazine

www.blackpraxis.com

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