Most of us are the spaces between the words
in the great tomes of history textbooks.
I used to think it was only me
who had fallen down a chasm between paragraphs;
thought that this genderless thing with no use for love
was the only one who clung to the tails of gs,
got impaled on the spikes of ys.
Then teachers, the real ones, the ones not in school
showed me how many more were missing:
my friend wasn’t there because of her skin,
my aunt wasn’t there because she loves shes,
and he wasn’t there because his people
had lived in a place before all others
before anyone could write of them.
We sit in the spaces, look up at the words
and we must be in shadow -
the great pairs of eyes that sweep across pages
don’t see us lurking below.
They don’t see us reaching but sliding off As
or hear our call:
look down, look through.
I can fake my way into their taught texts,
pass for what’s worthy of study:
it creates resentful gratitude.
But prick at my skin and look underneath
and I’m no more a fit for these words;
thrown off the edge of an overhanging sentence
to be buried alive under footnotes.
So tell me this then:
if we are so many
(who lay on the parchment,
who flounder in hard drives,
get squeezed under type)
then who is reading this history?
Who is left?
I can guess, oh yes,
I can guess.
There is nominal care now that all we are missing:
sending prayers, sending thoughts. Here’s one paragraph, see?
We should be content with the spillage of ink
they allow us to daub with our fingers and feet,
write our lines ‘round the passages
so neat, true and proper-
we are coming.
The keys being hit
with anger and sorrow and beautiful truths.
Their spines will be broken,
their covers all split
as we push type aside and say:
I was here;
I was there.
Someone like me
lived my life.
The history books will be full of free verse
and all the songs that they silenced.
true names on maps,