What My Father Said

By DIANA BABINEAU

You go where you belong, my father says to me,
ten years old, listening at bedtime to his story

about how he once was mugged in Brooklyn
in 1974, a small, polite Canadian

trying to buy gas and a Coke. Like here, he meant,
in this neighborhood, where crime is low, a 94%

white suburb in Connecticut,
where the poorest homes are decently lit

apartment complexes,
at night, only mildly rustling with ruckus

and weeds. Like here, where everyone
looks the same as everyone

else but me, my siblings.
Like here, in his pale arms holding

me as I cry stupidly over
what he had to endure—the horror

of losing your wallet!—
not knowing yet

that he and I have different
things to lose. That my body, brown against

these ivory sheets, washed and pressed
by my mother’s brown hands, is

not the same. That my grasp of the world
is yet too small for me to know where a girl

like me belongs. Where should I go?
I ask him. How will I know

when I’m there?

 

Diana Babineau is the managing editor of In These Times and a consulting editor for the Kenyon Review. She copyedits and proofreads books for the University of the West Indies Press, and holds a BA in English from Amherst College. She lives in Chicago.

[Purchase Issue 17 here]

Griffin LessellWhat My Father Said

Related Posts

Cover of Throw

Review of Throw: A Novel

JEN HINST-WHITE
If I offer you the words contemplative novel, you may not immediately picture—for example—someone getting stabbed in the leg with a pencil. You may not picture a tangle of high schoolers fighting and flirting, fueling rumors and throwing shade and roaming lowrider car shows.

image of street with buildings and fence

Immigrant Ditty

VLADIMIR GANDELSMAN
"Immigrant Ditty"
The sun goes down. The supermarket / floods with dead light. Now the gate / caws at you in the near darkness. / A not-so-magic key might blaze. / Can’t steal happiness, now, can you? / Win Lotto America! This, / as they call it, is a beeldeeng,

castle

Repeater

SIOBHAN LEDDY
There are many English towns just like it: rural, obscenely sentimentalized, a place where fox hunting enjoys popular support, but immigration does not.