|Chagrin River Review||
As the story goes
Green flags meant gas the year before I was born.
Red flags meant sorry. When the flag was green,
cars stretched down Compton Boulevard
until taco trucks planted themselves
in center medians. When the pico
de gallo ran out, street fights started;
bookies were born on the hoods of Impalas.
Enough people bet and lost their gas money
that mobile pawn brokers set up shop.
One woman sold her hair, fine as spun gold,
long as the bench seat in her Duster,
for enough gas money to get to work
at the factory where she assembled
timers for bombs. The broker butchered
it right there with a set of pawned garden shears.
He wrapped her hair around his neck, secured
it with someone’s grandmother’s jade comb.
My mother went into labor at midnight
about ten car lengths away from the pumps.
A good man about to pawn his mother’s
best rosary heard her cries and delivered
me right there in the right hand turn lane.
The cross resting between my mother’s
heavy breasts is suspended from a string
of smooth garnet beads, tiny spheres of blood
against her sun-browned skin. My mother curls
my hair behind my ear, whispers me a world.
A native of Southern California, Gabrielle Freeman has lived and worked across the United States, and she now resides in Eastern North Carolina with her family. Gabrielle teaches composition and literature at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. She earned her MA in English with a concentration in multicultural literature from ECU in 2001, and she is currently finishing her MFA in poetry through Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Gabrielle’s poetry appears in Clockhouse Review and Red Rock Review.