Up and down the one-way streets

of houses huddled deep and close

together, sycamores, live oaks

brace up to the concrete, break through,

their dark roots surfacing, disrupting

the order of a New Orleans neighborhood.

A block away the laughter, the games

belong to black children, confident

on a street colored their way.

With light skin and braids hanging

to my waist, I, a stranger on the block,

wander past them looking in

through the chain link fence.

Their eyes, like dark and shallow pools,

hold me caged behind that fence.

“Zebra” I hear a small voice say.

The red bobos laced on my feet,

that only yesterday I tested for speed,

don’t move fast enough.

I am shoved to the pavement

by the boy who yelled “get her.”

White children whose street we’ve invaded,

watch them run away, see me sitting there

untying and tying my shoes. And later,

kicking them off, I poke at the slugs

by my feet, decide not to tell

my black mother, my white father,

where I have been.