"What It's Like to Be a Black Girl
(For Those Of You Who Aren't)"
by Patricia Smith
First of all, it's being 9 years old
and feeling like you're not finished, like your
edges are wild, like there's something,
everything, wrong. It's dropping food coloring
in your eyes to make them blue and suffering
their burn in silence. It's popping a bleached
white mophead over the kinks of your hair and
primping in front of the mirrors that deny your
reflection. It's finding a space between your
legs, a disturbance at your chest, and not knowing
what to do with the whistles. It's jumping
double dutch until your legs pop, it's sweat
and vaseline and bullets, it's growing tall and
wearing a lot of white, it's smelling blood in
your breakfast, it's learning to say fuck with
grace but learning to fuck without it, it's
flame and fists and life according to motown,
it's finally having a man reach out for you
then caving in
around his fingers.
1. Write down 20 words, phrases, emotions, things, etc. which you identify with.
2. Now, take one, two, or three of those words and write your own poem, with the title: "What It's Like to Be a ______ (For Those of You Who Aren't)"