But I can’t stand white people
She fires the phrase
across the small classroom
body cocked behind the desk
prepared for anger, or pain,
She searches for something sharp:
for teeth to clench, for the sturdy
setting of jaw, the splendor of anger
as it molds a face,
sets it taut against bone.
But she’ll take the slide of skin
into suffering or fear,
the slacking of a smile
eyes that tumble toward the tile.
Behind the podium I struggle,
work to give her nothing she can
call victory but my belly.
That betrayer, hardens
seconds too late to diminish the blow.
I cling frantically to façade, reply