“They look like you.”

My father says it like I’ve ascended, but it feels
abrasive.

From far away, the hipster’s coffee shop
looks like a gaping black hole
swallowing everything that was
like someone or something took a bite of that space
that space in the sidewalk
a mouth I won’t go into.

But others do. Some of ours do.

The mouth spits up. Something new. 
Offers organic after yanking the organic
that’d grown there before yanked it by the roots.
Bricks from before I existed. Before my mother existed. It existed.

An imitation.
It sits like a shiny gold tooth wedged between
venerable Italianate row houses.
Or like a rotted tooth, perhaps.
Which one of us is decay?
Our pain painted in black matte.

A puncture wound from a fang.

Black, white, gray, and glass.
They wash away colors
until it’s something cadaverous
death
achromatic
or something that blends into the night
something that hides
a shadow in the dark
is afraid.

At least the barred windows with our flags, the graffiti that said “Jesus Saves” or “Say nope to dope!,” the mouldering, crowded stoops where we ate a dollar’s worth of candy, which back then, was a whole paper bag, the rusted fence that we tied our jump ropes to — 
they were honest.

“You know what you walkin’ into. What you see is what lies here.”
Brooklyn laid itself bare.

The coffee shop is the darkest thing around
even darker than us
	pardon
darker than everyone else.

irony
the drums the congas the heartbeat 
I barely hear it anymore.

“They look like you,” my father says, “You must feel right at home now.”

He says it as if we no longer share home. Share here.
Aren’t we walking side by side?
Reminds me of the story he’s always told me.
Grandpa’s first time meeting me as a baby.
White baby, rubia, blanquita, green eyes.
Grandpa raised me up with both hands raised me high
like a blessing
like a cure.

“Finally,” he told my father, “You’ve done something right.”
Aside from the earlobes, I don’t look like my dad.
More like my mother, but even she, I had surpassed.
Evolution.

I have ascended.

But if my skin — my casing — is ascension,
what of my soul?

Their skin might mirror mine,
but you raised me, daddy.
Color 
— in my soul.

A maw in disguise 
no matter how good their coffee
won’t make me happy.
In fact, I have never felt
farther from home.

Written today, July 14th, 2022.

The coffee shop pictured is not the one that inspired this poem. Please don’t be mean to the coffee shop. I’m sure their coffee is delicious… if you’re a coffee person. I’m a tea gal. Anyway, did a quick google search, couldn’t find the exact shop or one that looked like it, gave up. But just for the sake of a visual, I picked something.

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