Friday, May 1, 2015

Becoming a Statue

You walk down the street 
drinking your $7 cold press juice
on your way to making art.
You move against the tide of frail and elderly,
as a faceless other: brown body in foreign lands.
Reaching the corner there is a trash can
with two gravid women waiting for the light. 
You toss the empty into the receptacle.
It does not clang or bang against the can.
The cup makes the usual soft cut of styrofoam
against plastic bag lining. 

One of the women jumps and yelps.
Startle reflex makes her snatch her bag
closer to her chest as a shield.
Her companion looks confused about
the momentary commotion,
until you see her come into awakening
about the brown body moving down the street.
The startled woman quickly looks away
as the friend continues to piece together 
the scene they will pretend never happened.

You continue toward your destination,
sure to avoid eye contact
and hoping not to startle any old white ladies,
you walk slower and softer until
your arms are molded extensions
of a park statue.
Is this your art for the day:
to exist against their screams,
their startles and clutched purses?

When you arrive in poetry class,
the teacher asks you to read something
and you recite a page about Baltimore
and what it means to be seen as packs,
gaggles, flocks, prides, a posse of
Huns, mongrels, assassins, Zulus.
Afterward there is a vacuum that's filled by
a stuttering student: he is nervous that 
the conversation might become political.
That would make him uncomfortable.
You watch as his words tumble
out of his twisted mouth. 

The room recoils back into mute.
The teacher waits for any other opinion
but the room is voting with their silence:
they want to move on to another writer.
The poem read after your's is funny and light.
It settles into the void nicely.
The students laugh and breathe again. 
You smile and fold up your paper. ​
Your lips concretize. 
Stiff neck, vacant eyes.

No comments: