because they do not want those niggers next door.
how the rocks our Midwestern neighbors hurl
through our windows just miss
breaking the small bones of my sisters’ bodies
all the many tiny pieces of glass
embedded into brown skin
the doctors have said
like our minister who came over yesterday
who would not sit on our couch
your kind is not welcome here
we will not treat you.
she used to be a nurse.
with her eyebrow tweezers
my mother pulls each shard out
one by one
they look like blooded diamonds.
father and I shopping
for my middle school graduation dress until
we are asked to leave the store
in Los Angeles, California
because our presence
is making the white people uncomfortable.
my sister putting my yellow
cheerleading pompoms on her head, swinging around
because she is not allowed to get a weave
and she wants to be pretty
with good hair
hair that will move.
then his heavily accented English always saying Here
when asked Where are you from?
the machine guns of the soldiers
who force themselves between my sisters
in the back seat of the car
father has rented at the Mbale airport
force my father to drive
how they shoot
out the windows
afterwards none of us are allowed to visit home.
my 17 month old son running
arms out to leap
onto my mother and hug,
every other weekend
during the year we live
at the domestic violence shelter.
my grandmother as a girl
kept home from school so she will not
be kidnapped, raped.
the day Amin’s soldiers shoot up
my parent’s classroom
and they are spared.
in the afterwards. when
they shoot up my aunts, uncles.
when my mother and father get word
You are next.
the border crossing.
the American visa.
that precious thing
that rarest bird of all.
the scar on my knee
from the white girl
in second grade who
calls me nigger and pushes
me off the swings.
my mother’s years of silence
between my older brother’s death
and my younger brother’s birth.
father’s silence, to her.
the old woman I see on the bus
to school each morning
with mismatched brown and beige skin
from a lifetime’s use of lightening creams.
my sister, phoning her boyfriend
laughing that mine has said he will kill me
that my son and I have run
and she will call my ex
tell him where we are hiding.
the black eye
he has given her for their seven
year anniversary blooms
like a dead thing
on her brown skin.