Monday, April 13, 2009


In the second grade we made buttons
in the school library after recess.
Our teacher intended
for us to scrawl with Crayolas
some V seagull soaring high,
so she’d know we had dreams to succeed.
Looking back on it,
this is what I’d presume about her.
My button was a call home
to momma, me in tears, teacher in tears.
Next to a daisy, “God is Science!”
Far too challenging for my peers,
how is someone meant to respond to that?
It is just unrealistic, and it’s unclear
what message our little artist is pushing.

In the fourth grade we traced a partner
on long strips of brown butcher paper.
We were supposed
to follow a dull pencil in one line
around the arms and legs of each other
so we’d know about bodies in the same shape.
Kiana, my best girl, laid her yesterday relaxed hair
on the strip and spread her fingers wide.
When she got up, “Why does your hair leave oil?”
Not the last phone call home to momma.
Far too much attention to Kiana’s blackness,
and in front of so many other peers.
It’s just a little invasive, disrespectful,
and it seemed like Kiana was uncomfortable.

It was here I learned.
Separation of church and state,
how to talk about skin differences in public.
I still think God is science.
I’m still curious about the body,
how my white body leaves different marks
than Kiana’s black body on a sheet of paper,
and how the worst thing to do is close my eyes
and tilt my head to the side, trying to find
my teacher’s vocabulary, or the right crayon,
as if I wanted to be on the safe side.
Looking back on it,
That is what she’d presumed about me.

No comments: