Blacked Out

B

art2

“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it.

Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

– Zora Neale Hurston

Principal Reed crashed class

Got everyone’s ears pinned back

He needs to talk to…

Me?

Says to bring my belongings

I pack them oooohs with me too

Head pulsin, chest puffin

Tryna roleplay alibis

For

What’s about to be swept out

Under the rug

 

I have visitors in his office

My favorite cousin and auntie

Greet me with

Stale eyes

Stapled smiles

Somethin’s

Very

Very

Wrong

The worst news

Be buried

Under unexpected hellos

 

I ask,

Is it my mom?

They say,

Let’s talk in the car

I squeeze extra steps through the hallway

Tryna stall time and truth

 

Auntie revs her engine and throat

Your mom’s been in a car accident

I’m tryna put pieces together

In a puzzle that don’t fit

Moms don’t drive

Auntie sounds like she chokin on chalk

She got hit while walking

 

Moms always been on the move

I can’t recognize her

In the hospital bed

Tied to all them wires and machines

(E)motionless

They found her in a ditch

Blacked out

The doctors say she got angels

Usually those that taste the earth

Never come up for air

 

Moms got hit on a stretch with no sidewalk

Only patches of wilted grass and forsaken road

The driver was an elderly man

Fussin over the radio

Sippin his tea

Testimony says

He didn’t see her

No remorse

Pointing fingers

Of responsibility

 

During the Holidays

Hearts soften

Somethin about the cold

Makes people warm up to one another

 

Word got around quick

School surpassed Santa

With the extravagant gifts

Brought in a tree

A real one

So fat

It couldn’t fit in the elevator

Had the whole stairwell

Smellin like pine

Moms put cotton balls in the tree

Supposed to look like snow

Hood ornaments

Are our tradition

 

For the first time

The bags sittin under the tree

Weren’t just for décor

Holiday meant more

Than moms clockin in

For triple the pay

Her feet are kicked up

Head supported by the neck brace

We watchin ABC Christmas specials

Reheatin Chinese leftovers

This season,

Gratitude carries more weight

Breath is the most intimate gift

 

When the new year came

New prerogatives followed

Libations and cheer

Replaced

By patience and prayer

The road to recovery

Spirals and winds

Compassion linearly reverts

To apathy

 

The kind gestures expire

Carpoolin isn’t offered no more

I’m missing days of school

Tryna balance caretaker and child

 

Moms still sleeps in late

I sneak out the creaky door

Start walkin down the hill

Towards the bus stop

Loopin DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya”

On my walkman

The driver pulls up

Asks me where moms is

I walk towards the back corner seat

Pretending not to hear

 

Two transfers

Two hours

Two stops away

Before my teacher rushes the bus

School called moms

Moms said I left home

So they tracked the buses

And found me

 

I’m back in Principal Reed’s office

He’s ramblin

Bout how 10 is too young

To catch 3 buses across town

Alone

I don’t get why

I’m getting punished

For wanting to go to school

 

I cross my fingers

Promise I won’t do it again

As a kid

You’re groomed

To be celebrated when seen

Only to realize

Threats lie in visibility

I call the school with Mom’s accent

Change the contact number

To my line

Can’t afford

The same mistake

Twice

 

Once spring came round

Moms started bloomin too

Healed up nice

No marks on her body

Bore witness

Lawyer said they reached a settlement

After all them fees

Moms was left with $3,000

Said it wasn’t enough for justice

But enough for just us

 

When Moms deposited the check

All I could think about

Was the damages

The driver got appraised

 

How a black car

Is worth more

Than

A black body.

 

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