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Joy and Hope and All That: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton

team          skin

 

junior high had a little abacus for counting our pigsties so
what could i do? recess sometimes smelled like luster’s pink or
gallon flasks of chlorine. our dodge ball teams were
light skin girls with lip stains   v.s.    dark skin girls with
devices to mute their worlds. ruby woo kisses, john
hancock for the yearbook. 9th street’s catcalls missed with
thumbs to eardrums, rollerblading past the new hood’s
whole foods.           in junior high what team was i? sapphire
my dire mascot, februaries licking the cute sayings off sweet-
hearts, cornell notes on the bus boycott dropping out the down
south of a brown bag lunch; claudette colvin, my unsung
noon hunger. losing ansisters made me mad. mad had me
up in oreo arms, pour of clorox stoppered in pecola eyes or
windpipe.        then sixteen— year for prom, p.s.a.t., that
men’s club,  the ebonies,
where i knew what
to do.

Courtney Faye Taylor

Courtney Faye Taylor is a winner of the 92Y Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize and a graduate of the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program ...