Julian Randall

Elegy for the Winter After Taina Was Cancelled

In the photograph     which never existed
I am roughly 7
on a block somewhere
near Michigan Ave

             It’s worth noting that even
             in the photographs
             we have managed to save
             I look exactly like my mother
             save only the skin

We’re outside of an FAO Schwarz
which was a place the other kids
at my school went to buy rocking horses
which cost hundreds of dollars

             It’s worth noting that
             there is no word for the fear
             of waking up white
             though there are perhaps thousands
             for the fear of waking up with your mother’s curses

Inside       white children are running     as wild as
white children     Bestial with joy     
some of them looked like my best friend
some of their mothers looked like a woman
who got mad when I asked her to stop touching me

            Lots of people assume my mother is white
            that my father      like all Black men
            lusts for white women as February lusts
            for anything exposed       My mother
            is actually Dominican   an immigrant’s
            daughter with vitiligo   The only way I know
            what she used to look like   a small island
            on the back of her calf

I had toys at home        but I wanted their toys
I don’t want to be them      but I want what they have
This knowledge that there is always more of something
I aspired most to be a casual violence
                                                            and am still disappointed

            I am lucky     to grieve most often what could never bleed
            that the blood in my memories is almost always mine
            I grieved Taina while I watched That’s So Raven
            If I knew anything before it was my time to know it
            it is how the static pricked my face to pull me closer
            how there were so many white folk on the screen
            how easy that sort of famine arrives
            how scarcity runs the length of me
            how a choice can cost me half my blood
            how my mother gave up teaching me Spanish that winter
            how scarcity runs the length of me
            how scarcity runs the length of me
            how scarcity runs the length of me

            how there can only be one

In the photograph
which never existed
I massaged the frost
into a mirror
pressed my head too close
to the cold of FAO Schwarz
My face briefly superimposed
on the chaos and smile
think It must be nice
Before my mother dragged me away
and later that night
my father told me I need to stop
talking like a little white boy
And I stared at my hands
and sucked the ash off them
before I headed to my room
which was a good room
And thought of that other city
within my city   that window
so pristine it could be a TV
never burdened with static
wondered if the space I rubbed
to look through was still there
My own small brown face
a bruise in the glass


© The Acentos Review 2020