When I cannot hear
my neighborhoods screams of
car horns, gunshots and barking,
I think about who is honking
the car horns, and if they are okay.
If they got into a car accident,
are they bleeding, are they hurt?
I think about who the gun is firing at
and if I'll ever hear the sirens
of an ambulance
coming to save them.
I think about the dog, who is always barking,
who is always outside,
even if it's very hot and even if it's very cold.
I think maybe death and other diseases are eying that dog.
that's what the nuns at the church whisper to each other.
I don't think that's true, though,
but only because Papa said diseases don't have eyes.
When I think about my neighborhood,
I think about a story my friend Magdalene told me once,
about a little girl the same age we are now
who fell down a rabbit hole and went into a different world.
The world had
talking animals and people made of cards and
wacky tea parties and other crazy things.
I think it was called Underland.
Everything in Underland
was upside down,
like how my neighborhood is
from the rest of the world.
Paulette and Bianca from Sunday school said
that I live in a ghetto
with the rest of the poor people,
but I didn't know what that meant.
I asked Mama if me and her
and Papa and James and Grannie
and if we lived in the ghetto.
She said of course not
where did you get that idea?
I asked then if we were living in Underland like the girl in the book.
Mama smiled at me and said that we were
like the girl in Underland,
and that as soon as the world quit being upside down,
they would join us in being right side up.