We sold our house
to a black family.
In 1965, in Chicago, when unwritten rules
We broke the covenant.
My father on the run
from the bank, he had no more
buy-now-pay-later excuses –
our neighbors would never
speak to us again.
I believed my father’s explanation:
they were just jealous
of his new TV and his
big car, my mother’s fur coat.
His bought-into dreams
discolored and deferred.
scraping a path out of
housing projects just two blocks away
claimed his piece of a used and tarnished dream –
a simple brick bungalow on a 30-foot lot.
This black family chose
to live among Poles Italians Irish –
on one side a family so arrogant they refused to speak –
on the other side, a clan of eight kids, including a boy
who ate dirt with a tablespoon in the front yard,
their house so close you could join in their breakfast conversation –
and next to them
new-world fascists who sent their son out to play
dressed in military uniforms.
Green was the only color
my father saw in front of him,
a family with a proud
down payment clenched
in a strong working man’s hand.
Broken, we moved
into a two-bedroom basement apartment
heads down on a rainy October afternoon.