Hey guess what. I’m gonna dream out loud and if you don’t like the sound you can stuff those sausage fingers in your ears and roll. I’m something. You said otherwise. I’m something.
I am.
I am.
I will be.
You had a meaty mouth and big ideas, but I was a skinny little girl near the mile marker of a hot asphalt trail up in rich land where the white people grew poison-free tomatoes in their back yards and venomous grass out front

I used to sprint past your sidewalks mind-singing
I’mma be better than what you expected you clown-faced momma in a minivan
expensive sunglasses and Jimmy Choos
and Cheerios and sippy cups all BPA free
but no goddamn dandelions or bald spots
or people like me
on your lawn.

I’ll have you know I’m something. I’m more than gum on your shoe in summer, more than numbers you run to assess how far you can get from me or how likely I am to hurt you, bitch
about me all your want, I’m here because I deserve to be
recognized even if my hair is a little wiry
my mannerisms a little coarse
my skin a little dark.

Three decades from now you will lean toward me and ask me where I’m from because there is just. Something. About me.
You will ask me what I am.
I will scream politely human in my head and smile because you are old or stupid or saddled with cultural baggage from a soon-to-be bygone era
and, yes, I am beautiful and it reminds you of your youth and that girl you pined for
with those big eyes but without the time of day.

You suffered the prejudice of being born plain and living vanilla
while I suffered the prejudice of not being born the same.
The best I can do for you, neighbor, is let you look at me
and wonder all the maybes and not make the connection
that I’m the same child you chased with heavy fists
and whose daddy you terrorized via postage stamps and heavy breathing over the phone.

Did you tell him watch out for your little girl because he was my umbrella when I didn’t even know your shit was raining down.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

0 Discussion to this post

  1. Heidi says:

    Love it. It gives me a sense of Gwendolyn Brooks meets ee cummings!

    View Comment

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