White Girls

White Girls

Cede to other women skin
tints of caramel, taffy, and fancy maple,
heady Jamaican vanilla extract
in amber glass. The glow
of copper wire. Oxides,
raw or burnt sienna.
The roughed-up walnut heartwood
deepened on roofs
of the Lower Ninth Ward.
The songs black poets sing.

Eyeball my elbows.
Cabbage whitenesses,
garden spawn. Folded water
in a rapids’ raceway.
Stretch-skin of tambourines.
The background of poker cards
common as toothpicks,
rolled paper on the Marlboro,
whipped froth of separated eggs.
Salt. Milky soap. Cores
of candy apples and bananas.
We are wedding dress
and baby’s breath. Pale
like airborne chalk and moist smoke.

We are leather-bound family Bibles
and derivative dictionaries
made of pearl linen cover cloth.
Our ivory endnotes press
shut glossaries of what little we know.

 

[image | Angélica Dass. By cataloguing every conceivable human skin tone, Dass illustrates that skin color and race and more complex than they might appear at first glance. TED talk | website]

 

Tricia Knoll studied her childhood, ancestry, education, and more to determine how white privilege plays out on the course of her life. Her new book, just out this month from Antrim House (and available on Amazon), collects poems that reflect her introspective work of the last three years as she prepared to turn 70.

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