aleigha

you’re a fast learner–you’re only 5
and you know that beauty
is the best compliment you can give. you’ve
learned that white women should be the
subject of your desire because they are–
princess elsa is stamped on your pink
light-up tennis shoes and her pale, delicate,
features adorn your fluffy purple blanket
that warms you while you sleep.

aleigha, how can i prepare you
for a racially charged world? where
you’ll fight battles for your dark curly hair
and deep skin? how do you prepare to win a war
against yourself?

angel

he’s one of the shorter kids in class
who waddles over to jenna to snatch her blocks,
races to emmett to drive his toy-car and hisses at timmy
when he mutters, hello. angel, whose smile blooms
like white chrysanthemums during spring mornings.
he giggles, and i notice the lights in his eyes dancing
as the ripple of his laughter makes me laugh, too.
angel, whose momma died a year ago.

the teachers say he hasn’t been the same since. he refuses
to use his words when wanting his spiderman shoes tied
or when craving sweetened mandarin oranges. angel, whose
favorite song is please and thank you.
if you didn’t know him, you’d think
he’s unfamiliar with these words.

like angel, his daddy hasn’t been the same either.
when angel bites him, he bites back harder and when
angel screams, he screams louder. angel, who always wears
a red shirt and oversized jeans. angel, whose boogers dry
to a green crust on his nostrils and
whose fingernails are rimmed with dirt. angel,
who during nap time dances in circles,
like a lighted carousel.