“Clapboard” by Gustavo Hernandez

Gustavo Hernandez


In second grade I winged definitions
because I couldn’t find a dictionary
among the hand-me downs people
left in the house we moved into.

I described a wallet best I could:
the loose crease, the torn
corners. Fruit only shapes
and colors absent continents

of origin. The house on Spruce
with its two rooms for seven
people never promised more
than what it first contained,

but taught us to create space—
knees on the green carpet with
a notebook split open
on the edge of a mattress,

prayer and sewing taken up
at the kitchen table. Rough
shingles, drumming rain
gutters. In a way a house

never stops protecting us.
I can still see its lamp
shorting out, and my family
walking in the dark, feeling

our way around. Doing pretty well.

from Poets Respond
December 10, 2019


Gustavo Hernandez: “Most of the time the media feeds us an image of homelessness that doesn’t take into account its many faces. Reading about the number of homeless children who are trying to get an education made me think of how fortunate I was that my parents, although struggling, were always able to keep a roof over my head during my formative years. This poem expresses gratitude to our tiny haven and reinforces the importance of having a place to call home.” (web)

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