There is a boy on the blacktop
You must forget that, set him aside,
even when the ring of children, friends
merciless and unforgiving, tease him
for what he said about the new girl, 
her clean dress blooming white 
against her skin. This is recess, 
and recess is slipping the noose 
of instruction, is emptying what 
lessons leaden a child’s mind.
Pretty is what he said, the word
like a crocus on a morning walk
or a fish leaping out of a river.
The eye stills; the river refracts.
But do not think of what he said,
the sudden unhinged spritely urge,
or how he recanted or clarified
for a Black Girl. You must think
instead of the girl so far away, 
twenty steps away, in a circle 
in a square, a ball calling out names
of her classmates. She is there;
a month later- an image floating 
in a boy’s head, beautiful head 
open like a window, beautiful 
window. Do not think shame
the cruelty of going against one’s own
instinct to love, how it festers--a seed 
inside forty years until she appears again
as marginalia in a notebook: Pretty
Black Girl, Third Grade— 
an image floating in a boy’s head.
America: It is not easy, the stench 
of sweat and hemp around the neck. 
He wants you to know that. And that 
it doesn’t matter if he stands at a cliff 
pointing at the dissolving figure of a girl,
you are looking at his finger,
you are breathing inside his speech,
beautiful finger, beautiful speech.
goddamn finger, goddamn speech.
He wants you to think only of her, 
not pity, not envy how well he made
words change the order of things.