The entire class
detest the eyes
that match so evenly
the brown cheeks and brow
and glitter like the gemstones
that dangle from her coffee-colored arms.
But much worse is her tongue.
She can’t say her name
so they can understand it.
Every scribbled note,
every whispered strand of gossip,
takes as its subject
the new girl in the fourth row,
the one the teacher introduced
as being from some place
and how everyone should
make the effort to welcome her.
Now, even that teacher
has lost faith in her own words.
If she didn’t have the girl’s name
written down phonetically,
she wouldn’t understand it either.
And yet she’s doing well in class
despite her struggles with the language
and her tears for the words on the bathroom wall
that read, “Go home spick.”
She changes it to “Go home Ximena”
Copyright © John Grey 2017
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.