Children Never Choose

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I did not choose to be alone on a playground

to push my favorite shoes in dirt to swirl
the merry go ground – at a slow pace. . .
Toss sand on a slide, hoping not to stick
to metal – wearing dresses – then.

I did not embrace the thought of walking
alone – down Avenue A passing the pharmacy
where my mother received her little round
pills – down Avenue A where my leg’s carried
me over red ants hiding between cement.

I ran, ignored the neighbors who waved.
Told to rush – to run – not walk – to pick
up pills before mother died – she told me
so. . .

I did not choose to crawl up our staircase
to my grandmother’s house, stopping midway –
to sit alone on the landing. . .
hearing mother’s Irish temper explode, but,
she is Irish, I was told. . . and in a minute
– it was over, and she smiled.

I knew Grandmother stood tall at the top –
her apron stocked with chew gum – never gum.
Her hands in the pockets of her apron. . .
A finger to her lips – my little legs
crept up the stairs – she whispered, “New
cookies from Woolworths” –

A Sicilian, upstairs talked different from
mother downstairs, but I cherished both. . .
I did not vanish when I had to ride a
borrowed bike – or smile when a cousin
near the border of Vermont – gave me another. . .
I loved country rides on back roads.

I did not choose to flip flop in white
panties in a bright yellow pool while
Grandmother watched from her window
on the second floor – guarding her white
sheets – hung perfectly straight on a clothes
line draped from a garbage shed to our back
porch. . .

I played near her pear tree, her grape
vines, tomato plants, and beans. . .
close to a shed where dolls slept.
A shed furthest from our cellar door
where I split my toe – on a nail, on a
door where grey paint peeled near rusted
handles – opened to a place where the
boggy man lived.

I did not enjoy watching mother press
pretty dresses for me to wear – watch her
knit, sew, and leave everyday for work –
help pay bills – I created at birth. . .

I did not know my parents could not hold
me – three months – stared through glass
to see their child hooked to lines attached
at her forehead. . .
I did not single out my parent’s but I felt
lucky I survived to be their chorus. . .

I did not hand pick my socks, shoes, or
choose the style of my – hair – mother cut
ringlets – stored them inside a red
and white striped box, clips of white
still attached – closed with white ribbon.
Curls chopped off because at five – a school
nurse warned every mothers in our neighborhood
about bugs – about bugs – bugs jumping from
one head to another.

But – I may have selected to stay alone while
playing at the playground. But, I don’t
remember why?

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