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“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.

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 December 17

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