I know we the finest Black folk in this southern, La Quinta Inn, but damn,
the White folk won’t stop lookin’ at us funny. The 2% milk-carton faces
the backside of a fridge’s glass door; classic Lucky Charms in Styrofoam
bowls, which squeak when you bend them. It’s unremarkable here
but we’re at least bored together, in line for food . . . news on a monitor
propagandizing in one ear, coming out abandoned in the only Other.
When there’s nothing to do, our Blacknesses practices metamorphosis.
This du-rag used as coffee sleeve. Bonnet as lampshade. We’d retire
in the pagoda with cigarette butts decorating cobblestone like flower stems.
I want to outgrow the flammable baggage that we left in the room
of our memory. Sometimes, when you forget what I say, I feel better for it.
As if, I get to share something with you . . . again, but what was that [thing
you said], in our argument about [something I forgot]? We are in the lobby,
silent, waiting for the other to disturb our discontent with a pun about crackers.
Copyright © 2023 by Nkosi Nkululeko. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 6, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.