after Mendi Obadike
When I was a white girl, I had no mother.
I drank whiskey, lived in a house with no walls.
Girls visited and marveled at my room to breathe.
When it was sunny, they let down their hair, drank fresh orange juice.
We drank all morning, didn’t go to class.
I knew which words to carry in the arsenal, which memory to disarm the most resilient bully.
Nobody bothered us or asked why we were missing.
I never doubted this was me. I knew how to pull up short, how to light my name under their skin.
There was no need for mirrors. No need to get free.