Made in the Shade

We liked to say

across Oak Street they had it

Made in the shade

               paved streets with real curbs

               concrete driveways leading into

               two car garages attached to

               two story houses with treed

               front yards and bay windows

Made in the shade meant riding

               to school in wood-sided station wagons

               wrapped in camel hair beaver collared coats

               practicing drums in the driveway

               having friends on every block

It almost made us green with envy

               when the roadside turned to mud

               in front of our gate after summer rains

               when we had to take a taxi

               stinking with other people’s groceries

               the driver’s breath forever circulating

               seats sticky in the clammy heat

We never saw folks from the other side

               racing with us up the hill to catch the bus

               but still we were the one’s that had it

Made in the shade

               as we gulped fresh air, stretched our legs

               paused to pet a new puppy

               said Howdy to neighbors sweeping porches

               sat outside after dark for natural air-conditioning

Ours the burnished memories of

               faking it to make it

               claiming to love what we hated

               making the best of what some called our bad situation

               yet knowing we could and did bloom where we were planted.