I scrape my brain to erase
the memory of a white man
calling me nigger.
His silhouette stood in the sun
and shadow grew across the pavement
of the grocery store parking lot.
I wanted to say something
to defend myself
and the history of my ancestors,
but I was alone
and only ten years old.
I didn’t realize the weight
his words carried in the air
but still felt the suffering
these syllables created.
I watched him walk away,
feeling shackled by history
and the whiteness of its pages.
I told my mother when I got home,
hoping she would understand.
But she told me this is America,
that my skin must learn to scar,
so I can’t feel the whip
carried by men like him.
David M. Taylor teaches at a community college in St. Louis, MO. His work has appeared in various magazines such as Trailer Park Quarterly, Misfit Magazine, Indigent Press A La Carte, Rat’s Ass Review, and Philosophical Idiot. He also has three poetry chapbooks–M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.