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Up and down the oneway 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.

Natasha Trethewey