Self Portrait: On Blackness
– After Chen Chen
With collard greens. Without white Barbie dolls. With my mother’s, mother’s prayers. Without a dog or cat. With braces and glasses. With Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs. With my father, saying, They never see me. Six feet tall and they never see me. With a basketball. With the original, 1984 version of The Karate Kid. With Saturday’s full of Mario saving Pearl & Sunday’s full of preachers trying to save me. With me, telling my mom I’m grown cause of blood in my underwear. With that Monday — when rumors about a child having a child became facts, her 16 year-old-stomach growing to the size of the soccer ball she could -but won’t- kick in college. With an older brother and his dimple. With an older brother and his toothpick legs and GPA higher than 2012 gas prices. With my parents’ increasing worry. With my brother. Without and then with The Talk. With his hands glued to the steering wheel. Without any weapons on him, sir. With the Indian boy who called me white in 8th grade. With a coloring book of Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters. Without crayons that match their skin. With a neighborhood of white families adopting black babies from Africa. With another school fundraiser for Uganda. Without a penny raised for an orphaned black boy, his cries for help landing just outside suburbia’s earshot. With relaxed, brown hair. With my extensive, intricate vocabulary. With my black card revoked. With the Indian boy I liked. With him calling me white. With my tongue, twisting confusion like a cherry stem into the knotted thank you he thinks he deserves.
Lauren Saxon is a 21-year-old poet and mechanical engineer from Cincinnati Ohio. She attends Vanderbilt University and relies on poetry when elections, church shootings, and police brutality leaves her speechless. Lauren’s work is featured or forthcoming in Flypaper Magazine, Rhythm & Bones Lit, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International Journal and more. She is on poetry staff at Gigantic Sequins, and spends way too much time on twitter (@Lsax_235).