Poetry: “Wealth-Building” by Alli Cruz


Growing up, one of my mother’s favorite pastimes
was surveying the wealth of multi-million dollar homes
on our flat screen TV that was never quite wide enough
to capture the full panoramic opulence, by which I mean our wealth
didn’t make us happy, but it made us “comfortable,”
by which I mean that our existence in a two-story home meant
someone, somewhere was “uncomfortable”
& we were still “comfortable” knowing we could avert our gaze
toward the dream screen America promised my mother,
& so many mothers before & after her,
especially those who had daughters like me, whose proximity to wealth
allowed us access to homes like the ones you’d see on your flat
screen—which made us “comfortable,”
which is the word I would use to describe the daybed we found
at the house party that was more like a houses party
because the property, owned by a college classmate’s father,
stretched out into several buildings, a zip line, a drawbridge,
a pool, a sauna, a tree house I probably couldn’t afford to rent
(because that’s Atherton for you), & a guest house
that our friend, being from South Carolina, said looked like southern
slave quarters, which is the building she and I snuck into
from those glass doors that were left unlocked
since people like this can afford to trust,
& so we walked through the corridors, guided by the white
glow of our iPhone flashlights & the slosh of free vodka
sitting in our bellies, which made
the whole bottom halves of us warm
as we lay in that daybed which might have costed a year’s worth
of our tuition, which is where we stripped to feel the silk
of each other’s breasts, our wet hair staining
the sheets with chlorine & sweat, moaning
the way you would never see on cable TV,
that rich quality that could make anyone cum, &
how much would you have paid to see it.

About Alli Cruz

Alli Cruz is a poet of Pilipinx and Cuban descent. She is a recent graduate of Stanford, where she studied English and Theater & Performance Studies and was a Levinthal scholar. Her work is concerned with family origins and “queer” as a verb & way of being. Alli believes that writing about her experiences is one of the most powerful forms of resisting erasure.