the slight angling up of the forehead
neck extension quick jut of chin
meeting the strangers’ eyes
a gilded curtsy to the sunfill in another
in yourself tithe of respect
in an early version the copy editor deleted
the word “head” from the title
the copy editor says it’s implied
the copy editor means well
the copy editor means
she is only fluent in one language of gestures
i do not explain i feel sad for her
limited understanding of greetings & maybe
this is why my acknowledgements are so long;
didn’t we learn this early?
to look at white spaces
& find the color
thank god o thank god for
Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The summer I was ten a teenager
named Kim butterflied my hair. Cornrows
curling into braids
behind each ear.
Everybody’s wearing this style now, Kim said.
Who could try to tell me
I wasn’t beautiful. The magic
in something as once ordinary
as hair that for too long
had not been good enough
now winged and amazing
to a long line of crowns.
to a long line of girls
moving through Brooklyn with our heads
held so high, our necks ached. You must
know this too – that feeling
of being so much more than
you once believed yourself to be
so much more than your
and too-big feet and
too-long fingers and
too-thick and stubborn hair
All of us now
the trick mirror that had us believe
we weren’t truly beautiful
and there we are
and there we are
and there we are again
and Oh! How could we not have seen
ourselves before? So much more
We are so much more.
Copyright © 2020 by Jacqueline Woodson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 12, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.