No Offense


          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,

          whatever comes.

          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

          none taken. 



                                                                                                   Bridget Dixon