They call it Long Island
not because of the outstretched miles
but textbook history
half a century ago we invented the picket fence
Laying out lines of identical sand castles
made from a Levittown mold
My new next door neighbor
walks through our overgrown lawn
and asks Mama if he can meet her husband
When she tells him she doesn’t have one
You’ve come to the wrong neighborhood.
This poem is for you, Mr. Weinstein.
For the current you sent down my shore
crumbling wet pebbles that made our structure belong
You were so concerned with who my father was
when all I knew was who he wasn’t.
He was not a void
not a burrow in my familial tree
Mama taught my branches to pierce the sky
so I was never consumed by my roots
I never felt abandoned until you told me I should
using shattered seashells to carve my bark incomplete
engraving lines like
Maybe I need to be in a relationship to prove not every man’s my father
If he couldn’t love me what gave me the right to love myself
I’m supposed to be broken
I reduced my heart to shards
and handed them out to any man with palms
issuing love poems as adoption papers
But Mr. Weinstein,
I was not always sand
I was a boulder condemned by punches of salt
Chiseled away from a tide of values
that stole its rhythm from the 1950s
No wonder the island where Gatsby drowned
As a woman I was commodity
and as a survivor of domestic violence I was damaged goods
But no for sale sign dangled from my neck
I refused rennovation
begged for attention for the trauma in my atria
stitching up wounds with self victimization
but instead of scars I got stories I couldn’t stop retelling
hoping if I wet my eyes with enough
salt water I could break out of this mold
I moved to a new coast
Grasped fresh sand just to morph it into more poems for my father
For the fact I can’t show my teeth in smiles because he refused to get them fixed
Made me believe I am prettier with my mouth shut
For the time he strangled my sister and as she shrieked my name
Convinced me I had a mouth, but not a voice
For all the times I wished I lost him in a tragic accident
because that kind of fatherlessness is less painful
Mr. Weinstein, who is this the right neighborhood for?
Men like my father?
Kids who know their daddy’s fists better than his face
Women who choke on their own silence?
Picket fences promised protection
But they just caged the violence in
I am more than what I didn’t have
and maybe I am made of sand
But I will be nothing less than a castle
So...welcome Mr. Weinstein.
Welcome to untamed tides
Welcome to goddesses emerging from bloody seas
Welcome to the acceptance you never had the courage to give
Welcome, to my street.