you can tell who has lights
by the tag on their meter. 
like all signals this kind of shame
is barely visible unless you know
what to look for
like garbage bags full of clothes
come home with only certain kinds
of kids or under herbie lids. 
both of course meaning your father
never stayed long 
we learned the power of secrets
was not in keeping them hidden.
but keeping them from poisoning
your hope in religion or thanksgivings 
and christmas 
designed more for assimilation than 
communion means you weren’t baptized
and so it doesn’t matter. anyway 
let us call this dirt poor 
because all things start somewhere
so imagine my grandmothers and grandfathers 
in houses that never cooled. an iridescent glow 
overflowing from the laughter of conversations 
warmed by the smell and taste and feel 
of a family love that however distant never dims.