Ghazal for a Fast, Black Girl Gazing from a Locked Window
April GibsonPoetry / Number 101
My parents left my ballooning body in a small town filled with white
pro-lifers, a man-made lake, room & board, food labels black and white.
I am fed food pantry goulash and Buckeye confections on football days.
Taught catch-up credits by volunteers who look like nuns—old and white.
There are other lessons too, like God being first, then man, then woman,
and how the ills of Eve live on in fast girls like me, who are not white.
They convince me the devil is real. I cannot leave this hell, save for church.
This place is an almost convent for evangelicals (the ones who are white).
I am not a nun-in-training, and I do not love God as much as people say
I should. Besides, in most religion, God becomes a man who is white.
No matter the faith, I would still be unworthy and full of sin; I want to ask
the mad-mother-hen, how long does it take to be good, if you are not white?
They say Jesus forgave even the worst of people. Am I worse than all of these?
What a waste of time trying to change the minds of Christians, who are white.
I save important questions for “doctor” visits with a plump, pink midwife
blond bang swaying as she checks my pink cervix with fingers that are white.
She chuckles at my fears for getting this mistake in my young body out.
Assures I needn’t worry, for Black skin can stretch further than the white.
She smirks as if having offered a gift, her signaling thumb and longest digit
pressed into a colorless pinch, parted to flushing tips, then back to white.
I feel like an invisible object pulled in two; viscous as the peanut butter
insides of old Buckeyes stuck in the bottom of my belly, which is not white.
I almost believe them when they say I don’t deserve my almost child, that they
deserve my seed more, even if Black babies are never first pick for the whites.
In the end, I have no choice in the matter, for other methods would land me
in the bottom circle of hell. Remember, April, the devil is real (and white)
April Gibson is a poet, essayist, and educator. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner,Michigan Quarterly Review, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere. April is a fellow of the Poetry Incubator (Poetry Foundation), the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and The Watering Hole Poetry Retreat; she is also a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award winner, a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award winner (State of Illinois), a Loft Mentor Series winner, as well as a Vermont Studio Center, Tin House, and VONA Writing Workshop alum. April teaches English at Malcolm X College in Chicago