CW: Racial Slurs
To grow old & Black in America is to search
among the names buried beneath & not find yours /
My father can remember the white boy’s breath burning
up his nostrils after telling him this fountain ain’t for n— outside
the theater; spitting with his siblings from the balcony in response. They tell us things
have changed, that things will change, but
I can still hear n— ringing against my ears
from the blacktop in sixth grade during recess /
on the sidewalk in front of Siceluff Hall.
To know I share this language—
of burning & bullet wounds,
of books named after bodies of buildings named after bodies
of bridges named after bodies
of bodies named after bodies
How it has grown roots within my throat & that of my father’s
& of his father & of his & so on & so on …
until breath becomes a question
& death an answer.
To grow old & Black
among the names
My father spittin’ with his siblings.
They tell us things
I can still hear
how it has grown roots within
of my father
of his father
& so on
& so on …
DAREN COLBERT is a writer and filmmaker from Missouri who's just trying to do his best. When he's not writing or making films, you can find him napping or watching a movie. Sometimes both. Okay, usually both. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Ghost Girls Zine, The Hyacinth Review, Moon City Review, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. He's on a quest for the perfect mango, so if you have any information that could help, please let him know.