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  • Between

    folded into girlhood out of parchment paper

    bare bark belly dancing brown untouched

    by sun and man. bitter brown but not

    coffee or chocolate or butterscotch

    brown. raw sugar calloused palm

    barefoot in some cash crop

    somewhere brown.

    Blue Ivy brown. the daughters of

    big-lipped fathers brown like Flint water

    crisis color brown like copper pipes. two buckets

    on one splintering stick. starved root and mulch and parched

    flower blossoming anyway brown. black sheep in the baby’s

    breath brown.

    black brown.

    and the fine

    fabricated

    line

    between.

     

     
     
    ***

    The Brown-Skinned girl Van Morrison Never Wrote About

    I’d bet she was warm and wet like

    the timber frame of a chapel in Georgia in summer

     

    And the mist fell off her skin like

    she took each step out of a scalding bath

     

    Which is how the dew came those days like

    Tuesday’s child born the Thursday before

     

    Especially those days

     

    Especially hidden; shaped like

    things that disappear

     

    Which is how she left his memories like

    rock raw sugar

     

    And somewhere among them made love to him upon the very ground she’d grown out of like losing virginity in a childhood bed

     

    But what was her name?

     

    Shaniqua

    Latoya

    Deenaysia

    Dawanda

     

    Shanice

    Lashauna

     

    Sha, La

    something

     

    Sha, La

     

    Something

     

     
     
    ***

    Hair

    You two-way, three-way, four-way stop. You cross

    roads. Let mommy show you how to look both

    ways. The span of your hips. The stride of your step.

    The color of your lipstick. The color of your father.

    The color of your face in March will change by August

    will fade in Autumn. Fade in. Haircut. Hair weave.

    Six hundred dollars and a dream. I will have no clip-in

    hairpiece in this house. No thick headed sons, no

    tender headed daughters. Rubber bands and water.

    Wide tooth comb that never gathers your curls

    the way it would a white girl’s. Like a handful of

    wedding silk.

     

    By the time you’re born, Kylie Jenner will have invented

    the corn row, and what are we going to do with all that hair

    that burns like a flag? And when they touch it? Whine and

    won’t sit behind it? I won’t have it in my house. No thick headed

    sons, no tender headed daughters. And I pray to six hundred

    dollars you are born with a good head on your shoulders. That

    you won’t have your mother’s hair.

    About The Author

    lola (1)

    Lola Todman

    Lola Todman is a Scholastic National Medalist and Young Arts award winner looking forward to becoming a published poet. Being raised in New Jersey, then attending boarding school in Michigan, and later pursuing a degree in Georgia, has given Lola the varied, unique understanding of Black-American girlhood expressed in her work. Her writing is a delicate but complete undressing of her innermost curiosities and conflictions. A former student at Agnes Scott College, Lola is now happily engaged at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she continues her education while working as an advocate for trafficked persons. Her interests outside of writing include working with children and volunteering for women’s organizations.