A childhood friend was visiting while
I wrote this poem. I tried to explain what
I’m talking about here to him & said
“Like Beth Singerman & Ruth Kohn [kids
From middle school] were Argentinian.”
“They were?” he asked. “Yeah & they were also
White, which is why they hung out with the white
People & why you thought they were just your
Run-of-the-mill white people,” I said. It
Might have been the case that some of their white
Friends didn’t think they were white enough, since
They were Jewish or not U.S. born. Can’t
Say for sure. We weren’t close for very long.
They split us up in high school, like they do.
My childhood friend who was visiting
While I wrote this poem, had visited our
Hometown by the time he met up with me
In San Francisco. He said it had changed.
He said that since Hurricane Katrina
Harlingen’s Black population had grown.
He said, “Thank God.” I told him that only
Recently had I realized that some of
Us were Afro-Latino. Actually
I said I had realized some of us were
Afro-Mexican & mentioned our friend
Marco as an example. He said, “That’s
Right. He was Puerto Rican.” Actually
He said he was Cuban. We were both wrong.
Our friend Becky had blocked out her memories
Of our elementary where, according
To my childhood friend, she never
Felt welcome. “Because Becky was Black,” he
Said. I asked him if she thought of herself
As Black, if he had asked her about it.
He said he had & that she had thought to
Herself for a second before saying
“Yeah.” Mexican is not a race either.
Even when Rob Wilson would get angry
& call my childhood friend Messcan
Even when he told me he liked me but
Couldn’t date Mexicans, Mexican was
Not a race––not even in the 80s.