13 year olds huffing paint in South Dakota
whose mothers were born on the reservation
who steal baseball cards from the candy aisle
wearing persecution like cloying, cheap cologne
knees and knuckles cool and red as clay
silk black hair bluntly severed with children’s scissors
chewed down chipped glitter fingernails
grass stained faces
soft eyes like overturned earth
magic marker tattoos
plastic lace chokers
hands that press firmly into the sky
and pray for rain
We spread our fingers wide against each other’s,
palm to palm like a shared prayer
Her hands are long and slender,
with deep, carved out knuckles
digits twice the length of mine.
My six year old hands look thick and pale
I ask my mother why her palms are
the color of my hands,
when the rest of her is a rich
She tells me that in Heaven
God spray paints all his children.
They lean up against a wall–
criminal frisk style–
and he gives them their color,
save their palms and bottom of the feet.
I ponder this bit of magic
and trust that it must be true.
Because mothers never lie;
mine doesn’t even know how.