Tension makes
a form resound

and so the many lines I am told
not to cross

Do not go out alone at night
Do not call attention to yourself

Closer to the color line
the more I am
            White girl


It is a while before
the other girls

correct me, gently. Good timbre needs
more air
          Shout out!

Muscles flex, quick-shift
          I stomp, impious

impervious, now

Do not dance suggestively
Hold a stranger’s eyes

That first day in the gym
I asked the row

                        Could I
about cheers

elbows sharp, foregrounded

                   feet, cloud-
Never of
                         A cheer

                        as the body
                        went up

As if I were.        Were not

             Branch creaking
Rope taut

And, maybe you, too—
whoever you are—reading this


Do not touch
Or eat

Their food
Do not drink

From the same cup

Copyright © 2014 by Ailish Hopper. From Dark-Sky Society (New Issues, 2014). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.