The small, neat houses of Little Haiti,
the colors of pastel tropical ice creams,
A visitor on a 2-wheeled conveyance rolls along.
It is Sunday. Father’s Day. Morning. A Triple Blessing.
An elderly man in black, stern clothing, ancient Preacher’s cap, graying Fu Manchu
marches past the ‘Little Haiti Hardware and Lumber’ store, (he is “Washed in The Blood of the Lamb”),
The store’s double doors are wide open. Three men sit on folding chairs smoking, drinking, gazing out,
and then…lifting up over the expanse of the avenue, I smell and recognize with
raw happiness the freshly cut wood that transports me back to the Midwest place I grew up in.
I allow my mind to vibrate in the woodsy perfume for a full measure.
A blur of Illinois hammers pounding, screaming saws, pencil in a man’s clenched teeth; 3/8 inches? Yes.
I return to this day.
I can imagine back in the 50’s & 60’s not seeing so many bars on the doors and windows here.
But no one can blame these families for wanting to be safe, wherever they are, whoever they are.
And still…a wave of hope…
I see a large green grass yard with a trampoline!
…and an above-ground swimming pool…for the children
and this father’s day heart is lifted.
I roll on.
Past the small churches with Creole names vividly painted.
Past and underneath the I-95 ramp,
past the heavily secured pawn shop,
past the the Haitian Chicken Place I long to go to SOON…
for I am sure it will be fully, lustily marinated and delicious…
with limes, garlic, Scotch bonnets and herbs.
past the Perla de La Incanto Liquor store,
past the young man listening to rap music in his old car at the stoplight,
the singer belts out the open driver’s side window,
loudly in rap cadence,
“Countin’ on the Holy Ghost!”
and I roll along.
Its early morning on Sunday and women carrying large, bulging plastic bags from the
La Guardia Produce and Mini Mart head home to cook the Family Sunday Supper
or whatever the word is in whatever that community,
it will be cooked at home… with Love… and by Generations.
And no sooner have I noted the meal I would love to share with them
that I smell chickens cooking in a home in this neighborhood.
Sunday Morning 10 a.m. Sweet Jehovah, I am rescued.
and I roll along…
A man sitting in a wheelchair in his front yard, a brace wrapped crudely around a bum knee.
He wears a huge cowboy hat. He’s looking down at his overgrown grass and perhaps wishing,
(though it would be work, and hot work at that)…
he could cut this lawn himself.
and I roll along.
I cross a wide, busy street and it is as if I have entered a new age.
The buildings shoot up in glass, concrete and steel.
It is neat, modern and orderly,
but the building’s colors are faded,
the grass is cut and
the smell of cooking disappears.
so I will roll along.