Ready to Rent | Judith Pinke
I remember to cast off the hat
of shame for my voucher. I remember
to pick up my purse full of criteria
for a good landlord.
I hold up my head with my collar of pride
and start dancing under my ethnic dress.
I clothe myself in my great value
as a renter. I’m ready to rent.
When he hears what I sound like
on his business answering machine
or sees me, if I get that far, at
the empty apartment door,
he is thinking something
about whether he’ll rent to me
and my son—our diction our colors
our height our heft our cleanness.
When he checks my credit history
and rental references and looks
for a criminal record, he counts how
the cash will flow through me from
his investment. Or will it? he asks.
Sponge-painted walls, two doors,
roller shades in a few narrow windows—
so I got it, with water light and heat,
on lease; it doesn’t belong to me.
If I could be buying my home, I’d
climb on the wings of my hard work.
I’d begin my belonging to and weaving in
the social order, tight with the twigs
and strings and leaves of my nest.