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He’s tripping all oral those clutter re consonants mommy cleaned I had misunderstood.
No chill do want you to be their friend. They are asking you to talk to them speed SP .
For a tiny on the though I felt a rush of relief but then.
I recall those flush spaces grimacing and I knew those kids didn’t want to hear anything coming out of my mouth.
We’ve come to the United States from the Dominican Republic fleeing the dictator through he go. My father had been part of an underground movement and we’d X scape . Just in time . My parents kept saying we were .
So lucky to be in the home of the brave. The land of the free our country . Well , we could be whatever we wanted to be .
But on the television. We watched as black people were hosed down attacked by dogs hit with but tunes hauled off to prisons churches the storefronts were burning . How was this any different from the dictatorship there we had come from .
My mother scolded me for my lack of gratitude.
You don’t know how lucky you are so many people would die to be here.
Exactly. And they were on TV right now .
Trying to eat a lunch counters to sit where they wanted to not just at the back of the bus. So back to those black people .
The dog be because you’re in a new country. You can get fresh with me .
The I always wanted to answer back and I always said I answered back out of the reach of the slipper she taken off to spank me.
It was a slippery slope in our family. What country we were in in what rules applied at any given moment I practice in front of the mirror how to pronounce mass choose say .
How cool look American. When I was speaking how to save a clever thing smart girls said in the stories I was reading I had recently become a reader . It was my teachers doing sister marries the Waco see I loved stories she put books in my hands . She sent me to the library a Liberian recommended books she was sure that I loved it turned out there was room for me in the ever-expanding circle of readers .
I have found what we came looking for in the United States of America between the covers of books a whole worlds where everyone was welcome no warning posters on the covers not pigs by blacks not for girls.
Why didn’t amazing world this war who’s where freedom came with reading , I could go back to olden times I could go to a whole , the country could I could go to the future , I could be a prince or a Popper I could be a slave girl in the south. Huckabee a young woman who solve mysteries and drove a convertible and had a boyfriend and a widower father .
No mommy to tell her what she couldn’t she couldn’t do.
The more I read , the more I wanted to be a storyteller myself.
But deep inside , I really didn’t believe I was welcomed. I had never read a book about people like me or books written by people like me .
This was the United States of pre-multicultural studies of pre-anything but the melting pot that all the simulation is mainstreaming model. And so the message to me was that , although the underlying truth of everything I was reading was no-one is an alien here still they were big gaps on that shelf of American literature .
In one of our anthologies among absent voices and missing stories I discovered a poem they’re meant a great deal to me.
I too by the African American poet Langston Hughes.
He too had encountered prejudice. He had not been invited to the big table of American literature sent instead to eat in the kitchen of minor writers . But Mr. Hughes knew that tomorrow , he’d be at that table , claiming his place in the course of American song in America , there were still not listening to him . Treating him like a second class literary citizen .
That poll one was music to my ears. The fact that it was included in my textbook .
Prove that he had been right.
That it was possible.
And so I set out to be a writer.
And all through high school , college graduate school I kept writing that little poem had given me a lot of gasoline.
Upon graduation. I was hired by the National Endowment for the Arts , to give workshops writing workshops in schools prisons old age homes in Kentucky , North Carolina , California , Maryland . I felt like a migrant poet traveling across America listening to its very carols like that most Latinos sounding of poets Walt Whitman .
I was already into my ’30s largely unpublished when I won a residency at Yahoo. The prestigious writing retreat .
My first big lucky break. I would be surrounded by writers like admired as well as by the ghosts of those that have been there before me including . I found out .
Driving into the grounds for 140 wouldn’t acres with Stonewall statues of Greek gods and goddesses overlooking the formal gardens. I wondered if I had the right address my all was compounded once inside the ornate neo-Gothic mansion with its Tiffany windows in this wide winding wooden staircase I felt as if I had entered a cathedral of literature .
Talk about location pressure , I was assigned the tower room with a God’s eye view of the ground a frieze above the fire.
Place betrayed them uses playing liars and flutes like Gates in his tower. I wanted to write something important something on the order of turning and turning in the widening gyre , something that might get me invited to the big table where I hope to meet at last . Mr. Hughes and thank him .
A week passed.
2 I hadn’t come up with a damn thing.
And those were the days before computers and echo here everyone else being productive their typewriters cutting away.
During the work day we were forbidden to visit each other studios or talk in public spaces. I prepared lunches were laid out on the table for us to pick up at night . We gathered together for dinner everyone discussing what they were working on , I kept my mouth shut and I marry out of deference to all the accomplished writers but also because I had nothing to report .
At my desk. I heard what was music to my ears . A vacuum cleaner coming up the narrow stairs towards the tower room .
Someone to talk to I leapt to the door , swung it open and I started the young woman with my desperately eager.
I think some things.
She held a finger to her lips and gestured me to follow her downstairs to the kitchen where the housekeeping staff and the cook or having a coffee break around a big wooden table.
I felt like a released prisoner.
Listening to their stories juicy tidbits about different riders who have residence at Yahoo. This one’s escapades that once drinking problem as they gossip I paged through the cooks thick falling apart cookbook with notes scribbled in the margins favorite recipes book marked with greeting cards an old letters .
I started jotting down the lovely vocabularies the names of spices list of garnish is icing pastries condiments had to cook a ham Blanche make a fluffy souffle these lists were my Madeline’s taking me back to the world of my childhood before I had ever dreamed of becoming a writer I’d been raised as were most girls in the Dominican Republic. In the ’50s to be a housewife and a mother my first apprenticeship had been in the household arts in the company of women who put meals on the table hung up the Wash I swept dusted soda thread all machines or with needle and thread women who took care of their family Helios which were extended and sizable as they worked . They tell stories and they sucked and they sang songs to lie in the lowered of their labors .
I realize why I had gotten stuck. I had been ignoring their voices inside of me .
They did not sound like turning.