When did I first see it? In a pool of black, bobbing children
collected in the only swimming pool, desert town, summer,
when the heat hit like an explosion when you opened the door.
What did you do? We left.
When did I first feel it? At 2:30, crammed with other students
at the entrance to the buses. Someone threw a cherry bomb
directly at the crowd. One girl before me howled in pain, her leg
a raw exposure of her vulnerability.
What did you do? I ran to her and held her tight.
What evidence did you have of wide injustice?
Every black student that I met was starched and scrubbed
so that their mother’s hands were worn on their faces. Each one
excelled as though only ultimate success was good enough.
I taught. I read. I listened. And I loved.
What mistakes have you made that contributed to the problem?
I accepted the attention that came cheaply, satisfied to be a white girl
What changed your mind, and your ways?
It may have been the teacher that I loved
who took me close into his mind but never violated my trust.
What was the essence of that experience? I learned that one need
we all share is to love and respect ourselves.
I learned that you can read this in a person’s eyes.
How did this change you, individually? After error,
there can be redemption. I saw power in the act of recognition.
How did this affect you? An unwanted pregnancy became my reason
What were your main obstacles? My parents feared that we would not
What did you decide in response? My son was beautiful; it was
the world’s problem to accept.
How have your concerns played out in your personal life?
I have watched people grow, sometimes after much distress.
All of my children live in a varied and indivisible world.
What can you do, now? Testify and love.