Native Stranger

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I find you in very common places. I see you around nowhere special. Sometimes it’s while I’m in-between, while I’m just passing by. Sometimes you are a blur to me.
We cross paths as I’m coming home from a space where we think, talk and pray about ones like you.
Somehow, there’s a separation between us. Somehow, you didn’t make it to this event. And you never do.

Native stranger, my used-to-be neighbor.
I see you cross walking. I watch you float across C Street and I want to call your name.
Native stranger, my used-to-be protector.
I honk for your attention as you jaywalk 6th Avenue.
When did our path change? I cannot remember. You are a blur.
I was told about my perfect vision for my entire life. But, am I the one who needs glasses now?

I rub my eyes and blink a few times, try to see what’s really true. I am in my car and you are on your feet, traveling just like we used to. Exploring the town just like when I used to follow you. Our stories came to an end somewhere. I am watching you and you do not see me. You are walking alone and I am in my car screaming.

The screams are coming from my inner child, or so my therapist once said.
To me they’re coming from this grown woman and she is too proud for a tear to shed.
Remember when this pavement was gravel?
Remember when all I wanted to do was travel?

We met tourists at the museum every day. We met strangers from The Outside.
Together, we sang to them. Together, we showed them our life.
But on my own, I left you behind.
And on my own, I am now crying from inside.

Native stranger, they told me you are the problem.
I can see now that they were wrong
And the problem is that I am already this far gone.

My used-to-be neighbor, what can you teach me?
I thought you were meant to learn from me. They said you do nothing but take from me.
They never asked about what you have.
They never thought about what you already know.
I was taught to see your slack, I was shown to only notice the weight on your back.
(As if I am not hiding my own)

Native stranger, tell me about the philosophy of your shack.
My used-to-be protector, how do we reverse this systemic attack?

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