Laura Cronk

Laura Cronk is the author of Having Been An Accomplice from Persea Books. Her poems and essays have been published in The Literary Review, Gawker, WSQ, and other journals. She directs The Summer Writers Colony and other programs for writers at The New School in New York.

White

My children are white.
I’m just as white.
Writing it I’m not less white.

When she was born I said,
“She is so beautiful.”  He said,
“She looks like a white baby.
She looks, white.”

As kids
we thought we could
just stop using aerosol

hairspray. We ate
sno cones, sucking
the color out first,

tanning in the yard,
pulling our straps to see
our tan lines, white.

But the white people
left the lights on,
all night every night.

Burned up everything.
Burned through what’s
underground and dug

deeper. Burned up the sky.
Burned through brightness
into brightness, leaving holes.

The sun says, “I see you,
each and every white
one of you. I see you—
cancerous, half-blind, white.”

Before

I was exquisitely thin, having just mowed the yard. I was hungry, but put off eating to lie in the grass by the paddle boat dock. The summer feeling I want to pay for. There were wildflowers exploding behind the aluminum fence. There were rocks so smooth from the water, no that was you. I was so young that I did calisthenics every night to be ready for what had to come my way. I was so broke that I changed into my bandana skirt in the employee bathroom. We had nothing to do but break onto the golf course at night and know nothing about the constellations. When I saw you, high in the supermarket, two summers after moving away, we had nothing to say. I was so young that I brought the boxer who sat in my station after his shift washing dishes a glass of milk. He ate beef manhattan, green beans, and a piece of peanut butter pie. He was you. I was so thin that I never ate the lunch special. I could have leapt from the railing of my father’s porch. I had no sense of my body’s limitations.  I did and we lay side by side on the golf course talking about how a person didn’t need to go to college. We were so young and you had just shorn your white-blond curls. We were so young they were white blond. We were so broke and we didn’t touch, except I ran my hand across your scalp sometimes. I was walking from the parking lot of the foundry to the foundry office to see if they had filing jobs, you came out and said, What are you doing here? Turn around. Later you said, But this is home. We were so young, so broke, existing on a thin, faint hit of life, amid the over fertilized bean fields and half closed factories and wet asphalt, the vapor that was me and the vapor that was you.

photo by: It'sGreg