Friday, January 8, 2010

Poetry Friday: Black Enough

Black Enough

I can't wait to tell you Sam,
that when you were just two
one of my very black students asked me
why I went
all the way to North Carolina
to have you.

I can't wait to describe to you the look
on that student's face
when I told him
that I didn't have you
like his mom had him,
but that your birthmother
placed you in my arms
in the hospital in North Carolina
on Christmas Eve
as she smiled bravely and
kissed you.

Oh. What? He asked. And then,
It's not that I thought you were black black
he proclaimed.
But I thought you were black enough to have him.

Black Enough.
Black enough?
True I wondered if I was black enough
to walk through the door of Cordell's barber shop
that first time six months ago
to get your black and curly hair
cut properly, what would they think of me?

And I can tell you that I am just
black enough to keep walking in that door,
where all the men
in that barber shop,
who have never asked me my name
Call you by yours-
Hey Sammy my man-
and What's up boss?
They ask you
as you strut
to Cordell's chair to demand
a lol-i-pop
for a line-it-up
and black enough to notice
as they stare at me
and stare at me
as if by looking
just a little longer
I might become
black enough to them too.

Black enough to notice that
now I own
many more brown and black sweaters and shirts
and brown corduroys
because I must want you to think I
am a little more black
and a little more like you

Black enough Sam
to know
that I'll never be black enough
and because of that
I must never forget
that you

May 2007
Catherine Anderson
Today is Poetry Friday. Poetry Friday host is Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Read more from Catherine at Mama C and the Boys


Eva said...

What a beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing it here. :)

Mardel said...

That is a beautiful poem I agree, and yet a little sad.

Ana S. said...

I loved that. Thank you.

MissA said...

Lovely poem. Thanks for sharing :) And such a cute baby!!

Jeannine said...

Absolutely lovely!!

Ali said...

Oh, I love this. Off to follow the link. Thank you.

Mama C said...

Such an honor to have the poem here--and thank you for posting it with such an inviting layout and photo of S! Thank you all for the sweet words of praise.

susan said...


Pleasure was mine. I'd like to also add that your poems has elicited the most comments I've seen in a long time and I didn't even have a chance to link it to the meme.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

tanita✿davis said...

Wow, this poem is deep. DEEP. Thanks for sharing it.

MotherReader said...

Thank you for sharing the poem here, because now I can't wait to go to Catherine's site and learn more.

And Catherine, thanks for sharing your experience in such an evocative way. I have a biracial niece that I often take for the weekend, and loving her has opened my eyes to subtle things about race that had flown below the radar for me. You've captured one aspect in that poem so beautifully.

Lorin said...

Very powerful poem. Thank you for sharing.

Jessie Carty said...

love, love love this!

J.T. Oldfield said...

So beautiful!