Mourning a Young Black Girl Lost

By Brittany Watts-Hendrix
In a head on collision,
there is no going back.
You often wonder if it’s too late
to go back to the kitchen,
where you should’ve learned
to chicken head.
Then, you consider if
chicken head is too specific
a reference to blackness,
and if the depth of kitchen
will go over some people’s heads.
By now, you can no longer be
anyone else.
You, who let bitches talk shit
while eating white sugar
until your tongue got so sweet
you can’t say bitch.
You, who sat in front of the stove,
begging for bangs that were
a tragedy on your head.
You drowned out taste
concerned with not looking
too ghetto. You still didn’t fit in.
You should’ve learned
all the new dances,
and talked like girls at school,
but you gave in –
believing weave was bad
and ghetto was a cuss word:
When yo cousins laughed,
you never felt in on it.
Maybe when your little cousin tackled you,
playing football in the middle of the night,
it was cause you didn’t give her anything
real to look up to. She’d tell you not to change
your voice on the phone, and you pretended
the voice was your own.
After taming your tongue –
you’re still unwelcomed.
Still black.
Still suffering.
She tried to save you then,
you’re looking for someone
to save you now:
When you raised a hand
to yo mama and Peachie said,
“She think she white.”
You screamed, “Y’all don’t understand.”
Because you didn’t understand:
You looked in every direction,
wondering which way was whrite.
Traded in tradition for fire
to burn everything surrounding you;
lost truth inside you;
couldn’t make your way back
to way back, before you lost sight
of who you were, and crashed
into who you could’ve been.
Before you died,
I saw you realize
there was never a time
you wasn’t strivin’ for whiteness.

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