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.