In Common

by chameleon

I still remember how she told me how
she pissed her pants in fear
“thirty-fuckin-four years old
wettin my pants because
he was the law and he was
lookin at me and he was”

mad as the boy who held
a knife at my throat because
the only white women on these streets
are ho’s, mama,
and so I knew how the heat
and sting of your own piss
becomes the sting of humiliation
in your cheeks. It was just one

more thing we had in common,
Antoinette and me, along with
a shared birthday and a shared
passion to level the playing field
for our five children each. We both
wanted the same thing for her five boys –
the same opportunities that
held out their hands to my five
that’s why I tutored hers in math
and she organized backyard meetings
with the po’

She asked me once why
I did it and I told her I figure
if my kids have it, then by damn,
so should yours
and she just shook her head like
I was simple, smiled that bitter smile she had
and said, “I figure if my kids can’t have it,
then neither should yours.”

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