CHILDREN NEVER CHOOSE
I did not choose to be alone on a play ground
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
Nancy Duci Denofio