Rearticulation (or what I did not say and what I am now saying)

A white kid in my class
asks why the slaves
didn’t just walk away
and on my way home
I remember when I
said STOP and
everything ran right on
when I thought STOP
and my mouth peeled
away like wet bark
On my way home
the traffic STOPS
for nothing more
than metal carved
in a standard sign
and it makes sense
that metal, bolts, paint
say things better than me
or at least are heard more
and I am the wrong
configuration of hydrogen
carbon and all those small
pieces that tesselate the seen
and the things we wish to see
and now I remember that
the white kid in my class
said slaves could have
just walked away
and my feet become
heavy like someone
below is hanging on
to my ankles and dragging
against the grass’s underbelly
I look back into that moment
when I dip into the black
before sleep, fall into the
his face, careen into that
metal chair, turn so hard
backward I crumble into salt
and re-articulate my small
pieces, perhaps closer to
something that can command
you walk on borrowed bones
and bad faith, turn around
make your mouth an urn

Charnell Peters is the author of the poetry chapbook Un-becoming (Thirty West). Her previous work has appeared in ApogeeHippocampusCrab Creek Review, and elsewhere. She is the editor for Ruminate Magazine’s online publication The Waking.