unwritten rules

one of the first porches i sat on was yours.
your papá built it himself. he painted it red,
white, a pale yellow–explosions of color on a
roll of film, the black and white silhouettes being
our homes. your mother brought us quesadillas
she coated with butter and toasted in the oven,
and after i had the first bite i told you a secret i
unwillingly hid from the world. i want to go to one
of the best colleges in the u.s. i’m going to go
far, because i like adventures.

you noticed i didn’t laugh with you,
so you explained the joke.
if my family couldn’t even own property,
how could i own an education?

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4 thoughts on “unwritten rules

  1. Wow, this was powerful. I recently became friends with a lovely Vietnamese lady who speaks English as a second language. And she told me how badly people treated her because of it, and it made me very sad 😦 I hate judgmental people, and as I get older it bothers me even more.

    Definitely the prettiest line, “he painted it red,
    white, a pale yellow–explosions of color on a
    roll of film, the black and white silhouettes being
    our homes.” Your prose is always gorgeous 🙂

    About this line, “. . . and after i had the first bite i told you a secret i
    unwillingly hid from the world.” I don’t think you need the adverb “unwillingly,” because it’s implied from the word secret. Most people hold secrets because they don’t want others to know. It interrupted the flow for me as a reader as well.

    • That’s terrible, it isn’t her fault that English was her second language. That’s not something that she could control, and you’d think people would grow out of that kind of behavior.
      I’m glad you enjoyed that line–thank you so much! Are secrets automatically kept unwillingly? I was thinking that some secrets are kept willingly, and others not so much. It’s definitely something to think about. I really appreciate your feedback. I try to stay away from adverbs in general, and I see how it can disrupt a flow.

  2. I think you are right. The more I think about it you could unwillingly keep a secret. If you were forced to keep it a secret and you didn’t want to that would be unwillingly, but if you wanted to keep a secret that would be willingly. Maybe the phrasing is a bit off? If it was, “and after i had the first bite i told you a secret i was forced to hide from the world.” Although that changes the meaning a bit. I’m awful at poetry to be honest XD

    And yeah, I was pretty appalled when my friend told me that 😦 I think many of us in America like to think racism is dead, but if you are white and Caucasian you aren’t really experiencing it. But it is still a big problem in this country and other countries as well 😦
    .

    • yes, it is something to think about. i will keep thinking of how to make it sound less awkward without having it lose its meaning. thank you for your input. 🙂 and yes, it’s easy to be blind to micro-aggressions when one is privileged and of the dominant culture. i don’t think racism will be dead any time soon.

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