mark with small spots
Maybe that's where there is money falling from the sky, diamonds
speckling the sidewalks.
lacking in light; not bright or harsh
We did not stay because the
dim bulb that hung from a chain swung back and forth when our upstairs neighbors walked across their floor, casting shadows that made my brother cry and suck hard on his middle fingers.
an open or empty space in or between things
My mother has a
gap between her two front teeth. So does Daddy Gunnar. Each child in this family has the same space connecting us.
rush down in big quantities
A small fountain sent water
cascading over statues of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
a three-dimensional work of plastic art
This house is protected, my mother whispered to us. By the Saint of Ugly
the act of creating written works
I don't know how my first
composition notebook ended up in my hands, long before I could really write someone must have known that this was all I needed.
suitable for use as food
Some days in this new place
there is only a box of pancake mix
an egg, and faucet water, the hiss
of those together
against a black cast-iron pan,
the pancakes sticking to it
edible and us
complaining about it wishing like anything
we were back in Greenville,
where there was always something good
extend out or project in space
I am in love with everything around me,
the dotted white lines moving
across my teacher's blackboard, the smell of chalk,
jutting out from the wall and slowly swaying
testimony by word or deed to your religious faith
Because my grandmother calls and asks
if we're spreading Jehovah's word,
because my mother promises my grandmother
she'll raise us right in the eyes of God,
she finds a Kingdom Hall on Bushwick Avenue
so we can keep our Jehovah's
make a strenuous or labored effort
This is what reminds us of Greenville, the Saturday-night pressing of satin ribbons, Hope
struggling with the knot in his tie, our hair oiled and pulled back into braids, our mother's hands less sure
than our grandmother's, the parts crooked, the braids coming undone.
a material effigy that is worshipped
Sometimes, Gina says, Maybe we should pray for the kids inside who don't know that God said "No other
idols before me."
suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival
Say, “I pledge allegiance ..." loud without our
jealous God looking down on us.
in an early period of life or development or growth
But Hope and Dell tell us that we're too
immature to even begin to understand
Robert opens his hand to
reveal a pair of silver earrings, says to my sister, This is a gift for how smart you are.
disappoint, abandon, or prove undependable to
His feet are magic and we all try to slide across the floor like he does, our own feet, again and again,
everything that exists anywhere
If you catch a dandelion puff, you can make a wish.
Anything you want will come true, he says as
we chase the feathery wishes around swings,
beneath sliding boards,
until we can hold them in our hands,
close our eyes tight, whisper our dream
then set it floating out into the
our uncle is telling the truth,
hoping each thing we wish for
will one day come true.
deliver a sermon
preach from door to door!
praise, glorify, or honor
The good news of Jehovah's kingdom—
Proclaim from shore to shore!
a slow speech pattern with prolonged vowels
In all our moving, we've forgotten our family in Ohio, forgotten our father's voice, the slow
drawl of his words, the way he and his brother David made jokes that weren't funny and laughed as though they were.
remain present although waning or gradually dying
Was he a hugger like Grandma Georgiana holding us
like she never planned to let go or
did he hug hard and fast like Mama,
planting her warm lips to our foreheads where
a medicinal or magical or poisonous beverage
And then for hours after school each day he makes
potions, mixing chemicals that stink up the house, causing sparks to fly from shaved bits of iron, puffs of smoke to pop from strange-colored liquids.
extend out or project in space
We are fascinated by him, goggled and bent over the stove
a clamped test tube
protruding from his gloved hand.
change religious beliefs, or adopt a religious belief
For three hours we move through
the streets of Nicholtown,
knocking on strangers' doors, hoping to
them into Sisters and Brothers and children of God.
knead and rub parts of the body
Soon, it'll be near evening and Daddy and I will walk slow
back into the house where I'll pull the Epsom salt from the shelf
fill the dishpan with warm water,
massage his swelling hands.
having your attention fixated as though by a spell
We drag our feet below our swings,
our arms wrapped lazily around the metal links
fascinated by the newness
of the set, the way we climbed all over the slide,
pumped our legs hard—toward heaven until
the swing set shook with the weight of us lifting it
from the ground.