Destiny O. Birdsong

after Countee Cullen

“Who I was seemed to be insult enough....” 
                        ---Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

I loved the grocery store:
riding beneath the cart,
watching the world
from below.

One day, as I crouched,
we passed a girl
about the same age
as me.

And so I smiled,
but when she saw
my colorless face, 
she screamed.

Nobody ever
mentions that day. 
My family’s way
is silence.

But I know what I know;  
at home, it’s simple:  
I look like my mother. 
I’m beautiful.

But elsewhere is different:
there are monsters
to be afraid of. 
One of them is me.   

first appeared in HEArt

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