Uncle Frank warned my father

This entry is part 13 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


He’d stand in the yard, puffing away
at a fat cigar, signet ring with an opal
winking on his pinky finger. The first time

I met my father’s mestizo cousin Frank,
he’d just come from abroad, somewhere warm
like Mexico or Florida. He towered

over us, hair tawny, blood thickened
after all by someone who’d given him
a name to match blue eyes.

And in those days, he had money—
enough to rent a two storey house
they occupied only a few

weeks a year, enough to educate
his brood of seven or was it eight
in schools abroad (not public).

Every summer he asked the same two questions
of me— how old I was, how far along in school.
The answers never seemed to really matter—

he’d launch immediately into a speech about the young,
how in America they raised them to prize this thing
called independence; how, once they turned sixteen,

they’d want to bust out from under your roof
and hit the road, make their way in the world on their
own terms. Nodding his head in my direction, the corners

of his mouth making the shape of either a smile
or a smirk, he’d say to my father: Mark my words, that’s
how they do it. One day that’s what she’ll do to you.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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