an endorsement that allows the bearer to enter a country
Manman had carried all our important documents in a big yellow envelope tucked into her large purse—our passports, her
visa, and the papers to prove that we are who we say we are...
station where vehicles load or unload passengers or goods
With every step I take out of the
terminal, I look back, and up, and around, as if my mother will appear from out of nowhere.
physically and mentally fatigued
I search for her face in the crowd of new arrivals rushing past me—some with their eyes as
weary as mine, others tracking every too-bright light, every movement of each person around them, peering into every corner of this too-big place.
squeeze together tightly
I purse my lips and
clench my fists.
the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
And then tomorrow, she will come to this side of the glass, where there is good work that will make her hold her head up with
dignity, where she will be proud to send me to school for free, and where we will build a good, brand-new life.
having pleasing proportions
If only Detroit had a bunch of blan, it would be easier for me to pick out a single black woman and three teenage girls, but many of the women look like my aunt with their brown faces; black, shiny straightened hair; and their big, dark coats that hide their
A girl steps in front of me as I
fidget with one of the suitcases.
one of a class of agricultural laborers
Their faces are mirrors of each other, but their bodies are opposites—one tall and skinny and the other short and chunky—as if Princess ruled their mother’s womb and Primadonna was an underfed
movement of persons into a place
“Fabiola, your mother’s going to be sent to an
immigration detention center in New Jersey. She’s not coming to Detroit,” Chantal says.
a state of being confined (usually for a short time)
“Fabiola, your mother’s going to be sent to an immigration
detention center in New Jersey. She’s not coming to Detroit,” Chantal says.
the extent of something from side to side
Even with a few lampposts dotting the streets, I can’t see the
breadth and depth of this city that is my birthplace, that is now my home.
a large and imposing house
I squint to see if the big
mansions I’ve seen on American TV will glow or sparkle in the dark.
with a faint light
dimly lit lamp shines a light on the person standing at the door, and I recognize the face.
a loss of consciousness from the lack of oxygen in the brain
Half her face barely moves, frozen from her
draw deep into the lungs by breathing
inhales deep and only one shoulder raises up to meet her breath.
difficult to analyze or understand
These things, Fabiola...they are so
distinctive manner of oral expression
A bit of Haiti is peppered in her English words—the
accent has not completely disappeared.
of a light grayish-brown color
The living room of this house, my new home, is a sea of
a ceremonial or emblematic staff
She motions toward Pri’s closed door with a poster of a crown and
scepter crossing each other.
exhibiting lack of regard; rude and discourteous
And you don’t see that as
relating to or articulated in the throat
He finishes out his tune with a low,
guttural hum just as the deep, pounding bass of a revved car engine overrides his voice.
carefully thought out in advance
At that same moment, a man comes out of the driver’s side and takes long,
deliberate steps toward the corner.
lacking in strength, firmness, or resilience
He reaches the singing man, grabs the collar of the old man’s dirty coat, and punches him until his body is
draw back, as with fear or pain
shrink away from the window. I want to unsee and unhear everything. My heart is racing and there’s not enough air where I’m standing.
any smooth glossy coating that resembles ceramic glaze
Upstairs, I find a near-empty shelf in Chantal’s room, move the books aside, and start taking my mother’s things out of her carry-on bag: a small statue of La Sainte Vierge, two tea candles, the beaded asson gourd, a small brass bell, a white
enamel mug, a cross, and a piece of white fabric.
the act of pouring a liquid offering as a religious ceremony
I’m now only missing a potted plant for the
summon into action or bring into existence
This is the first night I’ve spent away from you and I can’t even
conjure an image in my mind of where you must be.
having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
Were we too blinded and
distracted by the excitement?
a point where a choice must be made
“He is the Iwa of
crossroads. When there’s no way, Papa Legba will make a way. He opens doors and unlocks gates,” I say
consider as a possibility
contemplate asking to switch uniform skirts with her since hers is too short and mine is so long.
of an instrument of certain death
A seventeen year-old University Liggett High School student died last week of an alleged
lethal cocktail of designer drugs.
not of natural origin; prepared or made artificially
Locals are now saying there have been a string of parties over the last few months where the
synthetic designer drugs were made available to partygoers as young as thirteen.
a religion practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries
They thought just 'cause we were Haitian, we didn’t bathe, we wore mismatched colors, and we did
an informal body of friends
This one time, a
crew of girls from the east side challenged Donna on her Frenchness.
financial aid provided to a student on the basis of merit
By high school, Chantal had gotten a
scholarship to some fancy prep school, University Liggett, Donna was going out with Dray, and I was...well, let’s just say I was the brawn.
possessing muscular strength
By high school, Chantal had gotten a scholarship to some fancy prep school, University Liggett, Donna was going out with Dray, and I was...well, let’s just say I was the
tending to attract attention; marked by ostentatious display
Their hoods and thick coats make them look like the fat iguanas that cling to the bright-red
flamboyant trees back home.
a fee paid for instruction, especially for higher education
“You know, those documents won’t really be necessary for now. This should cover her
tuition for a while. How is your mother doing, by the way?”
express or state clearly
“Fabiola Toussaint. FAH-BYO-LA TOO-SAINT,” I
greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
I let out a loud laugh, because everything Imani says sounds so
a cry of sorrow and grief
The whole house seems to want to squeeze me in, force a deep
wail from out of my body because it’s only been one day and I am losing myself to this new place.
a means of preserving from harm or unpleasantness
Maybe that will be my
salvation, my death.
the act of assessing a person or situation or event
Any hint of an accent could be an invitation for
judgment—that I’m stupid and I don’t belong here.
sufficient for the purpose
Her coat is
decent and clean, her jeans are plain, her boots look new, and her face is hard, but safe—like a schoolteacher’s.
vastness of size or extent
The lady follows me into the CVS, but she goes down another aisle as I stand there staring at the
enormity of it all.