He says, they will not take us.
They want the ones who love
another god, the ones whose
joy comes with five prayers and
songs to the sun in the mornings
and at night. He says, they will
not want us. They want the ones
whose tongues stumble over
silent e’s, whose voices creak
when a th suddenly appears
in the middle of a word. They want
the ones who cannot hide copper skin
like we can. He says, I am old. I lived
through one revolution. We can hide
our skin. We have read the books.
He says, we are the quiet kind, the ones
who stay late and do not speak,
the ones who do not bring trumpets
or trouble. He says we are safe in silence.
We must become ghosts.
I think, so many are already
dust, tried to stay thin, be small,
tried breaking their own bone and voice,
tried to be soft, like a heart in the middle
of the night. So many tried to be
nothing, to be only breath. Be still
enough to be left alone. Become
shadows, trying not to be bodies.
It never works. To become nothing.
They come for the shadows too.
Added: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 / M. Soledad Caballero’s poem was awarded Third Place in the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, sponsored by Split This Rock. Sonia Sanchez lent her generous acumen as judge for the contest.
M. Soledad Caballero is Professor of English at Allegheny College. Her scholarly work focuses on British Romanticism, travel writing, post-colonial literatures, WGSS, and interdisciplinarity. She is a 2017 CantoMundo fellow, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a New Poet's Prize, has been a finalist for the Missouri Review's Jeffry E. Smith poetry prize, the Mississippi Review's annual editor's prize, and a finalist for the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award sponsored by the Poetry Society of America. Her poems have appeared in the Missouri Review, the Mississippi Review, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Memorius, the Crab Orchard Review, Anomaly, and other venues.