the year i forget
when i am due at a studio
to judge a poetry contest, ’til the dear friend
who set this up phones me, afraid
something might have happened
apart from what did, my thoughts
gone indwelling as my belly swells.
this is the great mystery
of woman become galaxy
spinning stardust into a new life.
on the way to the studio
i argue with the cabbie
i’m ninety degrees askew
sure he is detouring; on
arrival, he ushers me gracefully.
inside, it is a contest
for poetry about racism
i have missed the first round
and the rest of the panel is leaning
heavily toward a piece about black and white
set in toronto.
my gracious friend, who arranged this gig
suggests i, a fresh voice, give fresh perspective.
i heave my opinion onto the table
like a whale breaching: in edmonton
i say, the biggest racial issue
is not black and white, it is us
with all due respect, where
are the poems about us? why
are the teachers not teaching
that this is what racism looks like?
why are we erased, in our own land?
i demand this without irony, my indignation
tidal, epochal, whirling like lights.
they do not have any poetry
written to include us. this imagining
of what it might be like to be black
is all there is on offer. i will count
in my head, the years until
i could feasibly go back to school
get my teaching after-degree
and rectify this. i lose count
of the rest of the contest. i am
probably breathing steam
blowing great gusts of remembrance
my grandmother, father, siblings, me
plowing through waves of erasure
beset and lumbering.
with thanks to JVC, whale soother, grandmother,friend.