Divorcing California Takes Time

growing up in Los Angeles
city of tamales and lucky cats waving from the top shelf
pasty white girl towering over brown friends with killer serves on the court
white bread alphabetized between Fernandez and Gonzaga
power lines draping the streets like crepe paper and piñatas
hills green for twenty minutes in the spring and then wildfire ashes
falling on the playground at recess commingling with the smog
like cinnamon and sugar on a churro
we washed our hair every day rinsed and repeated

nighttime helicopters with searchlights like Hollywood
chuttering and chopping through the never-dark ET sky 
glowing from movie stars’ color TV’s somewhere above the big white sign
behind their big white gates where they washed the famous cement
out from under their fingernails

eyes straight ahead through the park
smell of funny smoke from the amphitheater
navigating between the cholos and the perverts
to get to Algebra before the second bell
safety in numbers
homecoming game in the Rose Bowl
makes me want to brag we were so cool
kicking Franklin’s ass in our imaginations
spending New Year’s Eve in the gutters making out and waiting
watching to confirm that our float was the bitchin’est of them all

city looks cleaner, tidier from the air above LAX
rusty Spanglish dusts itself off as the cabin pressure changes in my brain
while cravings for Ernie Jr.’s and Casa Bianca mix on my tongue
the spongy air washes over my high altitude dry skin
absorbing oleander and eucalyptus and sea salt and leaf-blower fumes

divorcing California takes time