Manifest Destiny

It used to be,
we knew,

already at six
before Mrs. Jurek,
first grade teacher at St. Therese
held up a traced outline
of mainland China in black marker
on clear see-through plastic
in front of another map
of the United States,
where Bridgeport is
and Canaryville,

about geography.

To cross past the Lake-Dan Ryan EL
over the eastern boundary
of Clark and Cermak
on foot into the projects

or west of Canal Street,
a long trek
through the dimly lit girdered viaduct,
the long death march
around pigeon droppings
splattered along concrete

we knew to be off limits;

just as south beyond the Dan Ryan
on Wentworth was

no Silk Road
Marco Polo traveled across
to steal our noodles
calling it pasta, all Matteo Riccis,
ready to do God's work
and convert our heathen yellow minds,

So when in actual size
we could see how much larger
China is than the United States,

Mrs. Jurek pointed out,
"But add Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands
onto the American continent
and notice that China is really smaller."

Who were we to argue?