Sis is walking or shuffling – depending on who you ask – and this can not be easy for her. Hunched under a dozen coats draped loosely over her shoulders, she is at once an eye sore and phenomena. How she can keep moving through spontaneous declarations of “Fuck Yeah!” from the crowds huddled around the small oval table tops on the sidewalk and the white boy’s answer to Canta y no llores! (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay!) is a mystery to me. I’ve made it my business to follow her with my eyes. I tell myself night after night that if anyone messes with her, I will run down the fire escape, through the second floor window, down the stairs and out the door and I will defend her. When we pass on the street, I know that she needs me to say hello to her, so I do “What’s up Sis?” is my standard greeting. I call her Sis because the first time she asked me for change six years ago, she called me sister and I was eager to return the platitude. Tired of being addressed as “Sister” by scruffy white men with straggly pony tales at anti-war actions, I was glad that this certified Sister was giving me my propers. I handed her a dollar and asked if she was warm enough, if she needed any food, if she was all good? She said she was okay and she told me to take care of myself and shuffled on down the alley, past the murals of revolution, past the wild jasmine winding it’s way up dilapidated wooden fences.

I started anticipating her. I’d leave a bag of chocolate, toilet paper and tampons in the corner that she liked to hide in. I bought her a new broom one time because she was always sweeping up the alley behind our house. You could count on Sis gettin’ real pissed when ever the garbage trucks came because they always left tons of trash on the street. She’d start mutterin about how people just didn’t give a shit, how she was always cleanin up their damn messes…


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