ODE TO THE WELL-READ WHITE GIRL

all the brown girls at the table turn to look at you and
we pay attention when you
say you “obviously can’t understand, but”

ok you don’t understand ok
you sure talk like you rehearsed this conversation like
how do you do that?

white folks talk like they got a book stuck in they jaw like
laugh at the joke about neoliberals
make fun of them with the kind of practiced observation
that says I was one of them once that says ok maybe it was 6 months ago but
you’re right, they do like vice

white girl you talk about my body like
audre lorde can tell you what it’s like in my skin like
how am I supposed to disagree with you when audre got it right

white girl you mighta read ntozake shange first but
do you hold her words in your chest, a little too close for comfort
did you hold back tears on the subway/on the plane/in your grandmother kitchen while the tea steeps

or is she a talking point
another brown voice to devour and analyse like
something to pull out when you talk to the brown girl still learning like
you’ve read this, right?

not sure yet how willing we are to stretch yet
not sure how angry we can let ourselves get
how much of our own history we can let in before, like,
the riptide of all we’ve lost before we had a chance to find it
pulls us under

white girl, am i a talking point at your thanksgiving dinner?
when your mama says something racist will you let me know?
what do you want me to say?

will you be able to say it better than me?

 

INDIE BEARE is a poet and visual artist whose work has been featured on Button Poetry and in The Juxtapose Review, where this poem was originally published. You can follow them on twitter @dykelisasimpson.

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