Broken toe.

Dsc02480by Michelle Seyner01 Sep 2020

As a child,
I sensed the locks
on the past
I would never learn to pick.
I heard it in my
father's silence
and the vague echoes
of my grandfather's colonialism
in his voice.
I was aware
I was not white.
I saw it in
my mother's glare,
in how the white kids
excluded me.
I felt a discomfort
about racist "jokes"
I didn't have the
vocabulary to
Words were either
secret knowledge
or enemies to me.
Words were the
giving me my
most mortal wounds.
But never were they
my defense.
Even if I had had
the vocabulary -
I wouldn't have
spoken up.
Racism was
a broken toe
compared to the
knife on my throat.
What was a broken toe
to me if I didn't
even know if I
would live to breathe
another day?
If I died,
what did a broken toe
matter to me?
And if I lived,
that broken toe
would get lost
in the cacophony
of my other pains,
swallowed up
by the silence
that offered me
a slim chance
of survival.
But I remembered
every discomfort
I had no name for,
and reading had me
collect words
like rare gems
I would
give away
one day.

25 August 2020.
Michelle Seyner.