My father grew up on the streets of Nicaragua.

He taught me to be kind

in the most indirect way.

He sat me down

beside my brother

our legs still dangling from rickety chairs,

our plates before us

beans, corn and a bit of chicken.

He instructed us to wrap one arm around the plate —

keep your eyes alert, he said

and be ready to strike anyone who tries to steal your food.

My eyes widened

my eyes shifted

and then rested


on a large bowl of mangos and payayas.

As my father walked away

my brother stabbed my hand with his fork

and gobbled down my chicken.

Lesson learned.

I still have a little scar as a reminder.

But when I went off to school

I shared my lunch freely

because this lesson taught me

that hunger

made some people cruel

and greed was no solution —

and on the days that I had nothing

others came to share.