Perhaps the Cinderella bounce house
in the postage stamp back yard of this
undocumented family represents it all:
the grass is all but gone, and even goats
heads – sharp enough to puncture bike
tires – are far between, and Cinderella
curtsies on the vinyl walls, extending
one white hand out to nothing, and she’s
blonde and beautiful, and all the children
in the bounce house are brown, and I’m
the only person whose first language
isn’t Mexican, or Dominican, or some other
language not American. And the children
bounce higher, springing each other up
as they land, and they sometimes fall
into piles and giggle, and the adults watch
the kids, and the street and drink beer
while eating ballpark-style nachos
and loaded hot dogs, and the little girl
whose birthday it is can’t wait to bust
the piñata, and she changes the music
from mariachi to the YMCA, then climbs
back in the bounce house, and dances
along, her Cs backward, and when too
many kids crowd into the same corner,
the bounce house collapses toward them,
and not a single one screams, not even
the toddler. Maybe they’re used to silence,
to bedrooms crowded with parents
and siblings, and sometimes even
grandparents, and this pile of bodies
is something of a comfort. Cinderella,
who turned back into a choregirl at midnight.
Cinderella, who believed in dreams.

Liz Clift