For Those Who Call Themselves Human When Asked What Race They Are

 

 

          1.

       
Did you know

          before whiteness was driven deep as a stake supporting the big top circus tent

          intermarriage was as common as dark mares mating dappled stallions

          Nigerians and Irish, Ghanaians and Germans

          strolled home in tandem after collecting crops of cotton

          climbed ladders to mend each other’s roofs

          spun fireside yarns near the pompous glow of plantation mansions
 

          Until such camaraderie caused clammy palmed plantation owners

          to concoct a cunning horse and pony show

          on one side feral black stallions gnashed beastly teeth

          on the other stunning white steeds bore agreeable trick riders

          my English Irish Scottish German ancestors climbed ladders

          to stand on slippery saddles
 

          Now like the spider who swallowed the horse to catch the cow

          we whites don’t know why

          we still balance edgily, eyes focused forward, smiling

 

        2.

          I knew a father

          whose raven-headed, doe-eyed sons

          would stretch out his cinnamon hued fingers and inward curling arms

          every evening

          pressing them down with the weight of their slight bodies

          like brake pads rubbing the wheel rims of his thirty year old arms

          every morning tendonitis inflamed he climbed ladders, mended roofs
 

          Every once in awhile after work

          his wife picked him up from jail

          because he’d been accused again

          of being illegal

          even though he was born in Bakersfield

          she kept his birth certificate and passport in her glove compartment

          on these nights his kids missed easing his erosion
 

          So go ahead, tell the raven headed men who stand beside you

          that you are not white, but human

          they can see you are blind

          to the color of their father’s wounded palms

          stretched out cross-like every evening

          continuing to sacrifice himself

          nailing down the secret of the big top

 

 

                                                                                      Lorena Boswell