by Noelle Sterne
I see you everywhere,
hear you, watch you,
Walk? You own the street,
buttocks bumping, swaying, important rhythms,
laughing from the gut with your girlfriends.
Talk? You punch the air:
Come awwwn, girl! Mama gonna getchew!
String out words like song,
flaunt school English,
slur stretch drop letters spurn syllables,
always with that bend of knowing.
Songs? You know all the words—
singles, groups, rappers, crooners, hooters, shouters, praisers,
downloads crammed in devices and heads.
You mouth them everywhere,
dance steps swaying, bumping, careless, sure,
sidewalks, birthdays, gas lines and groceries.
Where you learn?
All my lessons never loosened my legs,
all the teaching never let me go,
all degrees just made me tighter.
size shape age clothes matty hair don’t matter.
You own the floor—
arms pumping, snaking, rippling, curling,
hands ruling, shaping air,
feet in untaught Jacksonesque synch,
whirls twirls taps twists turns,
eyes rolling, mouth moving, little grunts,
unmatched bend of importance.
Trouble? Your proud trumpeted history isn’t the only one.
Hoo, you say. What troubles, poor little middle class white girl?
Okay, bloods. Poison of parents’ overexpectations,
best at everything, or no love.
Tyranny of never-let-up lessons
for aunts, neighbors, anyone who’ll listen:
No time for friends or games,
no time for dreams or doodles.
Too much flesh in a thin girls’ world,
too many books in a dumb boys’ world,
always nursing aloneness, watching your guffawing joy.
Look at me—just a little?
White girl call you sistah?
White girl call you friend?
* * * * *
Author, editor, writing coach, writing workshop leader, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 400 writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, essays, and short stories. Publications include Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children’s Book Insider, Coffeehouse For Writers, Funds for Writers, InnerSelf, Inside Higher Ed, New Age Journal, Pen & Prosper, Sasee, Story Monsters Ink, The Write Place At the Write Time, Unity Magazine, Writer’s Journal, The Writer, and Writer’s Digest. Academic editor and coach, with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, she helps doctoral students wrestling with their dissertations and publishes articles in several blogs for dissertation writers. Her book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books) contains examples from her practice, writing, and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach lifelong yearnings. Her book Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping With the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015) further aids doctoral candidates to award of their degrees. Website: http://www.