Two of Us
I just dug a pony… and dig about for blue plastic soldiers.
I’m digging up around my backyard and my neighbor comes outside to see what I’m doing.
We live in a duplex. I in the south side duplex and she next door to the north of me. We are both six years-old.
“I dig a Pig-meat,” I say, parroting the Beatles album my sixteen year-old uncle plays three times daily. “The song’s called ‘Two of Us.’ I dig a pony too.”
She says she loves ponies. She rode on one this summer. “But,” she says, “it’s Pygmy, not pig-meat.”
I say I’m digging up the bones of old civil war soldiers. She says her father reads about the civil war all the time, and that the civil war wasn’t fought here in Miami.
My parents call them “los americanos.” My parents were born in Cuba. I was born at Mount Sainai Hospital in Miami Beach. A lifetime away from Havana. A cultural light year away from D.C. I’m not sure what that makes me, this is my first year speaking English.
A lizard catches my eye — a fringe of meat-red dewlap retracting. I say I can catch that lizard over on the palm tree, my dad showed me how with a long grass.
She says she wants to kiss me. She places her hands on my shoulders leans in to me and kisses me on the lips. I wipe my lips. I bend down and pull a weed stalk out of the ground and strip the flourishes off the ends and try to fashion a slip knot on the end.
But while I’ve watched my father do this multiple times, and move the noose onto the anoles neck and try to lasso it in it slips out and runs a foot up the tree. All I magage to do then is make various knots that shorten the stalk considerably. “My father knows how to do this. I do too,” I say.
She asks if I want another kiss. I drop the stalk and say, “O.K.”
This time I kiss her back and hold her shoulders as long as she holds mine. Just a second longer than the first kiss. I tell her, “it’s the first time I’ve —”
The back door to her duplex explodes, the chain lock clacking hard against a jalousie slat. Her mother runs out screaming, “Daisy, get away. Come here!” Her blonde hair in a drunken ziggurat of rollers, of varying size, dangerously close to toppling. The speed with which she moves, the menace in her face as she looks beyond Daisy — who is running to her — at me puckers my stomach.
My legs are electric. I run away past the palm tree, the anole scurrying up the trunk, past the blooming hibiscus bush up the side yard out into the air and sun.
I run across the street, and into my cousin’s backyard. I scramble up the mango tree, into the dense shadows, laden with ripened fruit.
“I can’t not respond to Basquiat any more than I can not respond to Chuck D and Public Enemy. It would be like brainwashing myself out of history and the call to action.”
— Greg Tate / “Black Like B.”