Being Schooled

 

 




I don’t remember your name,

but I wanted to sit next to you
in the crowded school bus.

No?

I wanted to sit next to you,

because all the seats were taken.

and you were alone in the back.

No,
I wanted to sit next to you,
because you had your legs stretched
over the entire seat.

You didn’t want me next to you.

You were pretending to be bad,

and had a scar on your cheek to prove it.
No!

I wanted to sit next to you,

because the bus driver was yelling

for me to sit down.

I wanted to sit down,

but you kicked me.

Know this—

I wanted to sit next to you,

because you were black,

and outsider in my culture.

I wanted to sit next to you

to share anger

I felt as an immigrant,

but you kicked me—hard,

harder than all the verbal attacks

I got from whites, Asians, and Hispanics.
I didn’t want to fight you,

but I punched you back

harder than any punch

I’ve ever released,

to share the anger,

alone like you,

and nowhere to sit.

 

 

 

                 

                                                                     Shahé Mankerian