by Kerry Graham
Fingers frigid, I retreated to my car, vowing to photograph more street art later. Just as my ignition awoke, you parked willy-nilly in front of me, then shuffled to the building on the corner. Even your cap, navy, had not faded.
Scurrying from behind, eager to surprise, I startled you–vindication for the pranks you loved to play. Later, I texted my glee in seeing you again. “Me too my holiday treat,” you replied.
When I saw you next, at your wake, I forgot where I was, and why. For an instant, I nearly darted to your casket, grinning, eager to surprise.
by Maxine Kollar
I can still see two giant coats on the ground out in the sun. We circled them like alien bodies at a crash site, only barely comprehending.
When I was five years old, I had to join my parents in America. I was living in Jamaica with my sister and an Aunt and Uncle. My parents had gone to America years ago to find jobs and establish households for us. By the time they were ready for us, I didn’t really remember them. All I knew was that I was leaving everything and everyone I ever knew.
What you are leaving behind is one thing, you know all of it. What you are heading towards is a whole other thing. With no internet, not even a phone, we had no idea what America was really like. But there were rumors. Someone’s cousin had said that in America you can’t go outside. A friend of a friend had told someone that people don’t greet each other on the street, they just walk right by you; this was considered a great offense in Jamaica. I’m sure there were other rumors that I didn’t hear about, being five years old.
There must have been a hundred details that went into sending two little girls to a new country but all I remember are the coats. They arrived one day, and that was when going to America became real for me. I don’t understand why they were sent. It was November but wouldn’t it have been easier for our parents to meet us at the airport with them? Maybe it was a way to ease us into the idea of America. Growing up on a tropical island, the only notion you have of cold is the shaved ice they pour syrup on.
We put on the coats on cried. We circled New York at night and watched lights down below. I don’t remember anything about the arrival or the first days but I remember the cold. I remember looking at the bare trees and feeling the icy wind and thinking, this can’t last. Surely we would all go back to Jamaica at some point soon. There was no need to be upset. Surely America, with its frigid temperature would be deemed unfit for human habitation. And the bulky, shuffling denizens; they were truly the huddled masses, not kids running free on islands. Everyone would just stand up one day and leave for warmer climates and a better life. I was sure of it.
About the Authors
Maxine Kollar lives in California with her spouse and three children. Currently, she substitute teaches while raising her family. She has recently published work in Specklit Magazine.
Kerry Graham lives, teaches, writes, runs, and photographs in Baltimore, MD. Her work has appeared in The Blue Hour, The Three Quarter Review, Spry, elephant journal, and 20 Something Magazine.