Anjanette Delgado Miami (Richard Blanco)
My Brother’s Girlfriend Worries
(Or, The Mixed Girl’s Burden)
Take up the White Man's burden-
Send forth the best ye breed-
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild-
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
from “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899
Stop! He cannot see
this, will never see it,
and if you tell your brother
about it, I'll kill you, I swear,
she says and brings the tweezers close
as if to poke my pupils with the single
bright red pubic hair
she's pulled clean off its follicle
and trapped between metal tips.
Who knows why I back away
from her freak translucent fear?
This terror of being a mix
of white teen freckles over lips
fat and round like plums,
widest of noses, that startled 'fro!
Her fright is foreign to me,
she, open-legged transfixed
by an almost invisible thing.
I'd been jealous, I’ll admit.
She, now more his
girlfriend than my friend,
cries, You don't understand!
I'm not enough
of anything, not black, not white
a poser, no matter what.
And I see then: my brother's jeans
too heavy on this skinny girl who feels
“half-devil, half-child," who worries
what it looks like down there,
thinks she can carry
the weight of man’s imperialist hate
in pockets fashioned from her flesh.