Open Letter to Patti Smith, Day 7


There was dancing to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and falling asleep on a mattress piled high with coats while the grown-ups danced on, there were rides up and down the alley, stretching from Merrick Road to 133rd Avenue on my bike with the banana seat, there was a quarter saved here and there to buy a cupcake from Twin Ponds Bakeryon the way home from St. Clare’s, there was browsing the aisles at Woolworth’s for black Chinese slippers each summer, there was bake and saltfish and Granny Eutrice wrapping pasteles at the dining room table, first the corn meal flattened onto the foil packet, then the ground beef with its spices and oil, there was playing skelly and moral and hopscotch, watching the older boys play handball against the perfect plane of our garage, there was Imus in the Morning and Aerosmith and the Police and Duran Duran, there was the Donnie and Marie record player and the Star Wars soundtrack to play on it, there was watching the aunts get ready to go out and painting my Christie head with nail polish and eyeshadow after they left, there was watching the end of West Side Story through the keyhole in the bathroom which connected to the bedroom with the TV, there was stopping at Sonia H’s house for hot chocolate that time my little sister and I were stranded at school and had to walk home in a blizzard, there was Burger King and Italian ices sometimes, there were books from the library at home and at school, even the ones with red dots once I hit seventh grade, there was daydreaming about Frankie during the homily at Mass and making up excuses to go buy mangoes at the West Indian store when I knew he was working, there was Stuart Little and Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing and Charlotte’s Web read by Mrs. Shiels, there was the magic carat which Mrs. Zappa told us was the secret to long division, and wearing the underskirt from Mrs. Finlay’s wedding gown under the skirt I wore to sing songs from The King and I and being told I “sound like the record” when I sang “I Feel Pretty,” there was writing story after story plus the beginnings of a play with four teen witches in my spiral notebook and a CYO citation for “The V.D. Mishap, or the Mystery of the Bloody Kitchen,” there was Dallas Winston and Ponyboy and Soda, there was Deenie and Margaret and all the Victoria Holt heroines, there was Jon-Erik Hexum near life-size on the wall and John Stamos in a mint green polo against a pink background and two versions of Tommy Howell posing with a horse and Tom Cruise before he fixed his teeth on my pink wall, there was racing my sister to the farthest corner of the room to be the furthest away from the doorbell so I wouldn’t have to run down two flights of stairs to answer it, there were trips to our New Jersey cousins, four of us in the big back seat of our great-uncle’s Cadillac and Aunty Donna’s version of french toast, which was just regular toast with butter and maple syrup, there was…

and still…

Posted on March 29, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The imagery here…so evocative!

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