I selected this poem because I cannot see my uncle much anymore. I saw him every year when he used to come see me at the lake and bring my cousin. Like Jaqueline, my uncle lives far away and cannot come to see me because of family problems. Jaqueline cannot see her uncle because of a crime. This poem means something to me because I haven't seen my uncle in person in seven years which is a long time. I talk to him on the phone briefly and occasionally like Jaqueline but it is not the same as being in person.
rikers IslandWhen the phone call comes in the middle of the night, it isn't to tell us someone had died. Its Robert calling from a prison called Rikers Island.Even from my half - asleep place, I can hear my mother taking a heavy breath, whispering,I knew this was coming, Robert. I knew you weren't doing right. In the morning, we eat our cereal in silence as our mother tells us that our uncle won't be around for awhile. When we ask where he's gone, she says, Jail.When we ask why, she says,It doesn't matter. We love him.That's all we need to know and keep remembering. Robert walked the wide road, she says. And now he's paying for it. Witnesses believe there’s a wide road and a narrow road.To be good in the eyes of God is to walk the narrow one, to live a good clean life, pray, do what’s right. On the wide road, there is every kind of bad thing that anyone can imagine. I imagine my uncle doing his smooth dance steps down the wide road, smiling as the music plays loud. I imagine him laughing, pressing quarters in our palms, pulling presents from his bag, thick gold bracelet flashing at his wrist. Where did you get this my mother asked her face tight. It doesn’t matter, my uncle answered. Y’all know I love you. You doing the right thing, Robert? My mother wanted to know. Yes, my uncle said. I promise you. It rains all day. We sit around the houseWaiting for the sun to come out so we can go outside.Dell reads in the corner of our room. I pull out my beat up composition notebook try to write another butterfly poem.Nothing comes.The page looks like the day - wrinkled and emptyNo longer promising anyoneanything.
day. We sit around the houseWaiting for the sun rner of our room. I pull out my beat up composition notebook try to write another butterfly poem.Nothing comes.The page looks like the day - wrinkled and emptyNo longer promising anyoneanything.