Hanging Fire

I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me   
the boy I cannot live without   
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before morning
and momma's in the bedroom   
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance   
in time for the next party   
my room is too small for me   
suppose I die before graduation   
they will sing sad melodies   
but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do   
and too much
that has to be done
and momma's in the bedroom   
with the door closed.

Nobody even stops to think   
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team   
my marks were better than his   
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow   
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma's in the bedroom   
with the door closed.

Audre Lorde, “Hanging Fire” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by Audre Lorde. Reprinted with the permission of Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., www.nortonpoets.com.
Source: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)
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