I have turned our childhood into a few dozen verses;
there are places for dramatic pause,
and where memory failed,
I embellished a bit.

You’ve grown impatient with me
and my so-called poetic license;
I don’t remember that
has become your weary mantra.

I am learning to excavate the good times too.
Can’t you see where I’ve colored some words?
Inserted those tender moments?

A famous writer once said that eventually
I will tire of myself and will be compelled
to tell the I-less stories….I anxiously await that moment.
But for now, I want to tell them about our war with mama’s illness
and how at school we were maimed for being foreign.

Remember D?
When they chased us up Tioga Street
and accused us of having voodoo and
scanned our dark bodies for tribal scars
and discovered the cayenne pepper we had hidden;
to throw in their faces,
to sting them,
to make them fear us,
to be left alone,
to be African.

I have managed to poem all my pain;
tell me,
what do you do with yours?

Copyright © 2008 by Trapeta Mayson. This poem originally appeared in The American Poetry Review, November 2008. Used with permission of the author.