Should I leave the city? You ask me. You place your hands on your belly. I wonder if you are talking to him and not me. I wonder if he can hear you. I wonder if you feel as full as the moon. Tonight it’s shining like a disco ball on this pale pavement. We sit on my front steps.
You know what I’m gonna say.
I love this city. We’re like one big heartbeat. Like one lung. Breath in breath out. I pull the joint to my lips. Exhale. That’s what Mos Def said right?
But it’s so loud, you say, and a helicopter eclipses the crickets. Back home it felt like the ocean in my belly. I could feel the moon pulling me.
I know what you mean but I am indignant.
I know it’s not rolling meadows and shit but I saw a deer last week. Shit, I climb trees all the time.
I chief the joint bringing it too my lips again. Again. I sit not facing you. Blow smoke rings. I do that when I’m stressed.
I feel it pull me too.
But you know we supposed to be synchronized, I say, I bleed you bleed. Right?
And I have to look away as I say this.
You were here with me, on this porch, and the moon was waxing. Remember? I told you then, don’t make no decisions like that on a big ass moon. Wait for the new. Wait for the rebirth.
And I tell you now: crazy shit happens when the moon is getting full. people don’t think right and messages come from all over the damn place. I was sitting out here last night and it was like a sitcom. I don’t know why anyone would need a TV on this block.
The Young boys and Miss Nally last night:
From across the street and one row over. The young boys were playing curb ball.
Nosy bitch get out the window.
She is very nosy. The first time I let her come into my house she said, I always did like the way you have your furniture arranged.
Youuu little sons of shit. Call me another bitch and I’ll say something to you!
Lady ain’t nobody say nothin to you. You just crazy old Lady.
You told me to get out of my own window and you called me by some name. I bet I’ll fight you and ya mama. You can get her too. Please Please go get her and your grandmaw. But I’ll fight you until they get here- you little soft asses!
The boys ran away.
Hey Rita. Now what you doing sittin over there watching me all quiet? I was waiting to see if you was gone speak. I guess not! She assaulted me.
I ran away too. Slammed the gate. Shut the door. Pulled the curtains.
And now it is your turn. You are running away.
In the house you are silent. I want to talk to you about what happened today.
I know there was shooting on the block.
I know that someone died and you saw.
I know that you are afraid this death will mark your baby.
There is blood on your maternity blouse.
He was young, brown, and he smiled at you often though you didn’t know his name.
I want to talk to you. But I will not try to convince you to stay. I must be content to tell you stories, and mostly I just want you to let me rub your belly. When you go and sleep like this, curled up on your side, like a pill bug, I feel like I can’t touch you.
I missed you and the baby today, I whisper past your ear.
You turn toward me-weren’t asleep after all-your chocolate eyes in the light.
You say, I love you Rita, but you take me around with so many silly stories and never answer my question. I’m talking about your nephew. You never answer my question. I want to know if I should stay here? If my son will be safe here? He’ll skin his knees on so much concrete.
You speak quickly, holding back a stream of tears and Spanish.
You can come with me. por favor
My mother will love you. carina
And she will cook for you. Comida Buena. No more of this corner store trash you eat.
It would be good for you to see the land your father is from. nene.
I’m only half, I tell you, I don’t even know my father’s people like that. I only speak English.
I’m talking about the baby too Luz, I try not to yell.
Look. I know you don’t think my cousin’ll care for the baby. And maybe he won’t. But I will. My aunt will. I’ll make sure. We’ll do it together. Our baby. Two mommies. Remember?
You didn’t let me finish the story, I say.
Miss Nally‘s precious but that’s not what I wanted to tell you about.
The world talks to me.
What you mean Rita?
Jewels Shared by Critters and Shit:
From on my porch. Midnight before full moon (last night),
I mean crazy shit happens on a big moon. And good goddess don’t let it be colorful! So I was on the block last night. You had to see it. The moon was as big as I’ve ever seen it. The kind of moonlight you could take a bath in and shine, especially if you been kissing the sun all day. I was smoking some herb. Sending smoke rings into the light stream, and I thought about you leaving and taking your full belly. I kept thinking about everything I saw that night and I guess I thought out loud--
Damn that was wild.
Wasn’t it? I heard a voice beside me.
Who the hell is talking to me? I turned my head and here was the loveliest butterfly I had ever seen. It was fuchsia with gold flecks and orange spots.
Well gotdamn. It’s midnight, I said, and you don’t look like any moth I ever seen.
It’s a grind, said the butterfly in a husky voice, you can’t stop looking for nectar just cause it’s midnight.
It must have noticed I was taken aback. It continued.
I know my voice is jacked up. What you expect? I should sound like Sarah Vaughn? Well, ain’t no country fields of lilac around here. All I got is dandelions and the occasional buttercup grown up between broken glass and gravel.
--Well hell. I was interrupted. It’s a grind I tell you. And I think I got a habit. You know Hakeem and them that be on the corner? They been dumping the water they cook the crack in out in the back yard. You hear me there’s crack in the groundwater.
So there’s crack in the dandelions and I think I got a habit. It’s a grind I tell you. But I got a cousin down in the live butterfly exhibit, in center city. We came to this country together. He said if I get off this shit, he’d get me a job. I try not to fly past puddles these days. A beautiful thing has a hard time in the ghetto. It’s like a brick wall of darkness I can’t fly through. Gotta get my nectar. Catch you on the block?
I love your stories Rita. You’re so crazy. `
Hold up. I’m not finished.
So I kept looking at the moon because I figured that was the most nonsense I could see in one night. I was wrong.
I done packed my bags. I can’t take this shit. I got ta go.
I heard a squeaky voice near mey shoe.
And don’t step on me. I can’t take no more abuse today.
I looked down and there was a tramp of a roach carrying a lil satchel on it’s back. It said,
It’s a damn shame when even a roach can’t scratch out a livin in this city. I hate to think what the children have to eat if me and the mice is fightin for food.
While the roach was rappin to me about his troubles, a black cat slinked up rolling its jaws. Its cheeks were full. Its eyes glowed silver, looked like a violet coat in the moonshine. The roach was too busy talking to notice. The cat jumped up over the bug and pounced teeth first. I could hear the roach’s crunchy squeaky protests until it was swallowed mid sentence.
Ungrateful little vermin. The cat’s voice was full of waves like notes played on an accordion. There’s enough food. He just doesn’t know his place. Who needs a roach with a full belly?
What you got in your chops. I asked her.
I heard you speak to your friend last moon. I thought you might like to see these.
She opened her mouth wide in a yawn, I thought. But her pink tongue rolled out to show 3 small sparkling rubies. My mouth fell open too.
Where the hell did you get those?
She said, just below the surface- in that lot over there, behind where Kevin and his people stay. Right under the trash and rocks there is a little soil and then there is a layer of agate.
That made sense to me because agate is a healing stone and that always goes on just below the surface.
Right below that is love, rose quartz. I found some citrine out there too. But these jewels, I had to dig deep for; nearly to the foundation. I tried to tell these other black cats around here but they won’t believe. Cats sleep on anything of value in the hood. There’s so much sacred and precious that goes unseen. But it’s ok. The white folks will find the jewels for us in a few years. Gentrification is a bitch ain't it?