When we had tight cornrows with colorful beads, we could be anything we wanted to be.
The world was new and fresh and begged us to be everything we wanted to be.
We searched the undergrowth of buckling sidewalks with plastic shovels, checking for
Fossils, our brown fingers freckled with dirt. An archaeologist was the thing to be.
Wearing cut-off shorts, we planted watermelon seeds and faithfully watered them
For weeks, until we got evicted. Still, we thought the garden was the place to be.
We'd run from junebugs and rip sunflowers from their tall, blowing stalks: we'd follow
Snail slime after the rain, find and crush swirled shells. Curious was the way to be.
We'd play fish, rummy, steal-a-deck; I'd do anything to win. I'd fly into a rage if I lost.
I was named for a great woman, and can't decide if that's who I want to be.
WHAT POOR PEOPLE KNOW
"The same love by which we're loved
oppresses us with its wanting."
We have a crisp texture;
We can settle on the tongue Bitter as the most sacred Metal. We should know:
From careless pockets.
Land in mud. Float
Like paper lilies on concrete, dress
In the folds of red carpets.
Sparkle on laboratory linoleum.
We are as despised as money;
And who despises money but those without That fat stack, the ones in the minus, In search of zeros, crowding the margin-
And what is it to despise
But to hold a certain loathing Of the heart of something, The flesh and shape of it.
And we should know:
We wear our grubby shine in open palms And rest in the shadow of unknown trees, Living the rubbed-out tremble of stones.
KHADIJAH QUEEN was born near Detroit and raised in Los Angeles. She currently serves in
the military and lives in Virginia with her two-year-old son. She is also an American studies/English major at the University of Maryland, and has recently been published by Eye Dialect and The Pedestal Magazine.