The question, I thought, was about dimension
so half-drowsy, I snuggled up to my seven-year-old
and tried to explain in cartoon-friendly manner
the immigrant's journey across an ocean
through decades of cities
and how we two came to occupy space
in the bed
in the room
in the house
on this street in Paterson.
But along the ramble of my explanation,
he stirred me awake
to let me know he meant the mansion:
Why don't we live in the mansion, mom?
The one Nici lives in two houses away.
And I am stirred out of sleep
to stumble over bewilderment and ire
at a seven-year-old girl's princess fantasy
on streets where dreams of suburbia
stand overgrown by wild grass,
boarded up and marked with broad black strokes.
I stumble while my son waits
with remarkable patience
for me to draw him a mansion of his own.
Charmaine Valere is a Guyanese-American writer whose non-fiction writing has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Caribbean Beat Magazine, and Sx Salon Journal. She has taught writing and literature courses at several colleges in New Jersey, and she maintains a blog, Signifyinguyana, where she writes on Caribbean literature, with a special focus on the works of Caribbean women writers.