Stephanie Gaitán

BIO
Stephanie Gaitán is a writer, editor, and mother from the Bronx whose world has been featured in 433. Her past-times include laughter, and time-travel to the 90s and early 2000s with her daughter. Her work has also been featured in Stone of Madness Press, Voyage YA, and Palabritas. You can find her on Twitter @GaitanWrites. 


Hood Phantom
 

Mami doesn’t believe in terapia for herself
Porque dios is enough
Mami doesn’t believe in loneliness
The longest she’s gone without un novio
lies within the distance between
my childhood and the Bronx,
a boundary blurred and broken – hood phantom
Poverty taught us to rely on ourselves
even though we didn’t know how

Sans guidance,
I turned to libros
Mami turned to men
I became the orphaned princess
with a beautiful locket

Mami fell into him and him and him
I flew away, didn’t have to ever
set foot on neglected earth again

He grabbed mi hermanito by the collar
Pretended a wavering bridge
was the path to castles and happiness

Mami took us to the police station
all dressed up in party clothes
I fell into myself
Firecrackers or gunshots,
I couldn’t tell
because I was too busy escaping

Mami stopped hugging us
when roaches became the norm
when la vecina’s big mouth
and acrylic talons in her face
became the norm,
when her dislike toward “ghetto Puertoricans” began
when vecino kids hit my sisters, my brother
when the neighborhood boys
gazed upon my adolescent body with lust
Mami didn’t know how to protect
what was already taken from her

I wished for a Full House family
and the Power of Three
and my own Westley or Zorro or Tuxedo Mask
I learned to be attracted to men
who hid their true faces

Mami taught me that romance
is my only way out
Mami taught me I must escape,

to survive

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