Before we know we are rich, we go to Poor
School. Concrete fields in a parking lot,
we are elementary planets, all, orbiting
a 7-11, its cheeseburgers the sun, their molten
Vanderbilts can do better
The last time we drive there I am eight, Podge
is six. Mom takes us the back way by the train
tracks where no trains run, past the poorly lit
costume shop with Sexy Doctor-Nurse play
suits we Do Not
Only. By this route, we pass
the best part—
a brown yard with an iron sculpture. Half-man
half-fowl, all nude. We name him Wiener Bird
& so I choose to care for him. His wings
extended, his chest rain-worn, my Bird has no
family. He has
no Mom, no Podge, & every
drive I whisper, Here, you can have mine.
Mom tells me I know her better than anyone.
You are my soul mate, she whispers one night.
It is my job to keep this family safe. I hold
over train tracks.
A social worker was sent
to my classroom
last week. You can tell me anything, honey,
about your parents. Stranger, please.
I know my world, how to guard it. You do not
ever stand naked, wings spread, on the street.
Even clothed, it is unsafe to be anything
I will never
how to hide.