if a community is a house

By Angelica Maria Aguilera
Poem commissioned for TND's 40th birthday

if a community is a house

i imagine the bricks as all its people,

each shaped uniquely and wedged in differently,

mundane as the sky but it falls and we are all screwed.

a house of course is greased with grit,

a thousand bricks holding it up day in and out without
asking for rest

ode to the organizers, the bodega owners, the families and the
street sweepers

ode to the mailmen, the kindergarten teachers with patience flexible as a gymnastic star, the neighbors that make themselves our mothers when our mothers are off making a life for us,

ode to the streetlights that guide us back to our bedrooms and into the loudest dreams

ode to the cement sidewalks that serve as classrooms for character

to the friends that teach us where we can call home

to the spaces that raise us, give us space to leave, and arms to come back to

if a community is a house

that means it is always under construction

the upkeep is infinite, and tireless

the crooked oil painting waits for hands to guide it

the leaking faucet is no competition to the plumber’s loyal wrench

a hideous wallpaper is nothing to a mother’s ruthless eye for discount decor

and manipulation of coupons

home is picky about its use in context

it knows itself to be more verb than noun

it is the tending not the structure that most correctly captures it

it is the pieces of yourself you nail into the walls, the fragments of

heart molded into the tiles, the continuous work that constitutes the word
that creates the sweet sweet sweetness of


On this Giving Tuesday, say yes to
home, community, and opportunity!