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  • tPoetics Lab Directors

I Once Cried Because A Pygmy Sloth Couldn't Find Love

I really like sloths. A lot. I am from the generation of kids who had the orange Rugrats VHS tape and still have no idea how the blank cleaning tape works. I used to walk a mile to catch the 53 Woodward bus to high school next to the Déjà Vu strip club. One day on my way I home I sparked up a conversation with the boy next to me.

He too was in school uniform: white collared shirt, way too eager creased pants and a navy-blue backpack. He told me he had never heard anyone talk like me before. I was confused. He told me I talked “white”. I was confused. He pulled out his phone to record me talking. I understood that I was different. I was different from the kids at school because I listened to Sleeping with Sirens and Pierce the Veil. I was different because I liked anime. I got called an “Oreo.” A term used to describe Black people who engage in activities that are deemed “white.” Although my peers at school were attributing my nerdom to whiteness, this didn’t mean white people didn’t see me as Black. They too had words for people like me: articulate, well versed, special, brave. Words meant to disguise that they were surprised at my ability to conjugate verbs.

Now I write poetry, in an MFA program down South. I never thought studying poetry full time was something I would be doing in my early twenties but alas, here we are. I used to study Biomedical Engineering and Cell and Molecular Biology. A mouthful of words I can’t say seven times fast that involved a bunch of math problems I didn’t want to solve. I wanted to write about the people I met, about the things I had learned in this weird world. I took a chance on poetry. Applied to programs across the country and moved ten hours away from home.

And this place is not perfect. There is no place that is perfect. And I am not perfect. I have to remind myself of that even now as I sit to write. There is no cookie cutter way of explaining how I, a five-foot Black girl from the East Side of Detroit is building a poetry organization with someone I didn’t mean to become friends with. Bob Ross says something about how there are no mistakes, only happy accidents. And this is true, even beyond the hipster girls who order overly complex coffees at Starbucks and only wear mute colors. My life is the happy accident of a pen and a piece of paper being the things I yearn for in the morning when no footprint has ruined a perfect blanket of snow.

For poetry, I sit before a blank page and begin to share the most honest version of myself so someone else doesn’t feel alone. In poetry I am brave. I am unafraid and even when I am afraid, I still tell my story. Shaky hands and all I have something to say.

Sometimes I remind myself that I am still the little girl on the bus trying to figure this thing out we call life. Other times, I sit criss-cross applesauce on a table in front of my students and we are all wide eyed and hungry for a kind of magic. On the rare days we find it, we release it and we let it go.

PC: on IG

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