Middle School

by Dakotah J


On our camping field trips, they’d say,
“Whoever is lightest when we leave wins.”
Sunscreen was a must for us kids.
We, the black ones, laughed because we thought it was funny: we’d always lose, of course.
But that was the thing we didn’t understand— we’d always lose, of course.
We didn’t realize that the joke was on us.
They’d say oops, our mistake, laugh uncomfortably at their omission of the brown thing but,
mostly, they’d be relieved that we didn’t get the joke.
I get it now I think.

I don’t burn but
bullets sear through my flesh every day.
I don’t burn but            I did.
In a tree,
on a stake,
I don’t burn but
                                       maybe one day I will hope to. 

That is, to me, the worst kind of lynching—                                     wishing I was dead.





Dakotah Jennifer is a nineteen-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. Jennifer has appeared in Protean Magazine, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Confessionalist Zine, and more. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year and has published two chapbooks: Fog (Bloof Books), and Safe Passage (Radical Paper Press).


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