The Young Girl
Wandering through the isles of the department store,
a security guard notices her
lingering among the racks of costume jewelry.
He thinks he saw a young black girl stuff something
into her bag. The guard stops her at the double doors
and searches the backpack. Nothing is found,
nothing is explained, yet he looks at her as if
he has seen her face before. She shuffles her feet as
the manager’s name is called over the loud speaker.
The guard squawks into his walkie-talkie:
She fits the description.
Fumbling through my purse, I wonder about her
thin brown body; how many times has she been
stopped, opened up in the fronts of drug stores
and clothing stores. How many times
have buzzers sounded and heavy eyes
fallen on her face.
The manager threatens to call the police.
Her big gold-hooped earrings dangle
under a brown baseball cap, hiding her eyes
from the customers in line.
The lady behind me says
She’s gonna cry. For a moment
the young girl glances up, looks at me,
then looks away. She turns toward the guard
and starts smacking her gum loudly.
A series of rapid pops like a cap gun.
I crack a slight smile. I hope she took it!
Copyright 2006 January Gill O'Neil
Poetry Thursday: the most wonderful day of the week!
This poem was published originally in Callaloo years ago (they never sent my copy of the journal--yes, I'm bitter). But as I look at it, I see how my writing style has changed. I see things I would do differently, words and phrasings I would not use today. But I do like the energy and I remember when I wrote it. For me, poems are like photos, so I can go back and see me as a young girl poet who used any moment, any conversation as a opportunity to write poems.
I think of her often and fondly.