mango street / a poem

mango street. 


The pink-tiled bathrooms and velvet robes have been traded in for

patched-up aprons and flour-dusted hands. 

Where names were once stitched into lilac silk, 

the phases of the moon are inked across collar-bones. 

The wives drink wine from mason jars,

prune their ferns and poplars. 

The children sing to the sidewalk songs

of plagues, and they think not of sickness 

but of their mother’s rose gardens. 

The fences are white and the houses yellow,

and if you listen hard enough 

you can hear the plunking of piano keys 

and the thunk of a knife against a cutting board.

The tea goes cold on cracked counters, 

but what is colder, and more worn are the soles of their feet

which tread hard-wood floors and gardens every day. 

The hands are tired, the faces like bent cardboard. 

They have not forgotten their so-called golden days, 

you should not think that because of their now dimmed ways. 

For when they look at the kitchen sink at night, 

they see glitter and smoke and homemade dynamite. 

They use to smile and laugh, 

now they just nod and tell their children 

that the chalk on the pavement 

depicts something interesting.

Still, living is still a thread in the aprons. 

It is hot showers and the sun through the boughs of the orange trees. 

It is the chalk on the pavement

and the children falling over in a circle, 

their laughter blooming higher than the magnolias. 

For, you see, one day,

the party girls grew up, 

and they moved to Mango Street. 


Read my poetry collection Essence of An Age 

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