Asphalt Dreams (on Palmetto Street)

 
Photo Credit: Meryl Meisler (NYC, 1982)
Photo Credit: Meryl Meisler (NYC, 1982)
 A tree grows in Brooklyn and so did my dreams
on the cracked asphalt of tenement building stoops
a flower trying to break through
but roses don’t bloom here
that’s what I was told
Never believing that I could ever see
a world beyond my periphery
struggling with tunnel vision
I watch passersby and they watch me,
holding my baby close, never expecting me
to flourish from unfertilized potential
because young mothers never do
 
For years, I’ve sat here playing hide and seek with the shade
afraid to feel the sun’s gentle kiss, knowing that its warmth is only temporary
I was raised a warrior
Dodging verbal bullets of “you will never amount to much”
Words that bore blisters on my spirit
the unbearable weight of shame
pierced through my skin like daggers
Uncertainty became my daily make-up
dressed up in fear like I was wearing my Sunday best
I was broken
 
Menacing memories leave me maimed
wanting to crawl back into uterine walls before aspirations were deceased
Somber portraits of deferred dreams sing soliloquies
into succulent black holes of unfulfilled destinies
But fate has not cheated me of everything because here you are
giving me a second chance to sew back the threads of life,
I severed in order to survive
In your eyes I see possibility
In your smile, security
Your embrace reminds me that I am,
Strength
Courage
Survivor
Creator
Woman
Teacher
Mother
 
You are the hello that greets me every morning
With you I want to build legacies
Ancestral ties bind us to greatness
I must set expectations high so that
You,
Me,
We,
Never settle for less.
(written for Meryl Meisler & Defying Devastation)
 
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