“Lynch whenever works best for you.”

I mean, “Lunch.” It’s too late. So come

archived images of black bodies, hot.

I can tell they’re hot, even dead,

by their skin. Later, I find a market

with the cheapest eggplants I’ve ever seen.

In perfect rows. I want their bitter skin,

the color a little like what’s left after a burn,

or sunburn, especially where my arm bends.

Then, all I can talk about is history class,

social studies, how the teachers, even black

ones, don’t tell you they’re going to talk

about hot black bodies with balls and dicks

and maybe other meat stuffed in their mouths,

why it’s so important to see, without knowing

anything else about her, a black girl, woman,

who can tell with those full white skirts,

knocked down by batons or water or dogs onto

the pavement. And when you’re little and also

wear good socks, frilling socks with good shoes,

you think about the lace getting dirty, blood

on a white skirt, white socks, on shining black

or dark shoes. I keep saying: they should give us

a warning, a trigger warning.

What are the pictures for anyway, more than

blame on white people (I can tell their skin

is dry by the pictures), holding their hats,

cameras, each other. Looking up at a tree,

down at the ground. Why didn’t each black

person kill a white person. That’s what I thought

in school, looking at my book, or TV screen,

or projector, or Black History Month posters,

or the white students and the white teacher,

the few other blacks. I sweated a little.

Did I look hot? In a picture, I’d have wet skin.

There, one could point a hundred years later

or less, an eggplant shine on my forehead.

Ladan Osman is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony.

You Might Also Enjoy

How the Words Died

Fred Marchant

without heroism                /               guards falling asleep                /               a. . .


Baffler Newsletter

New email subscribers receive a free copy of our current issue.

Further Reading

 October 29

The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd. New Directions, 119 pages. It’s not quite clear if the. . .

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.