The Catwalk

Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets

Floating Ladders3
By Nancy Lynée Woo

The reason why I don’t clean
or fix my car, and then drive
around Belmont Shore looking
smug with taillights smashed
and duct tape mirrors gaping
at the fluffed white people
shopping is because I might want
them to be offended by my
poorness. I learned this in
4th grade when I would, without
fail, walk into my Gifted And
Talented Education classroom–
where smart kids go to be told
they’re smart—in Orange County—
where the envious go to flourish
in their hive cement sidewalks—
15 minutes late every day, creaking
open the door to teacher already
talking, interrupting, because
my mother, worn out and coffee-fixed,
could never fit a schedule,
it was her subtle way of resisting
her tug-a-long fate—at least she could
rebel against time—and usually
my clothes were dirty or old or
hand-me-downs friends’ mothers
who pitied me gave me, and here
I learned…

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