“Why,” Mrs. Gibbs asked, “is she crying?” pointing me out to the other girls.
I wanted to disappear
but that’s not what happened.
“She’s crying … because she cares,” Mrs Gibbs continued
answering her own question.
My sniffles temporarily grew louder.
I sat huddled in my shame
as it slowly dawned on me
that whatever wrong I felt guilty of
was not the point of the current lecture.
I was the example, yes,
but not the bad one.
My admiration for Mrs. Gibbs was so
She was my portal into the world of
where I felt sure I would want to
dwell for the rest of my days
forever and ever, amen.
I wanted to be perfect in her eyes
first and then in mine.
In her rented studio for all colors
of Black girls
we learned her commands
backwards and forward
always in French.
Mrs. Gibbs produced more than one
My favorite was long legged lithe and
light skinned Carla
who danced ‘God Bless The Child’
as if she were Billie Holiday herself.
That song still haunts me
resurfacing my little girl longing
to be as accomplished as Carla,
as independent as Carla,
as prized by Mrs. Gibbs as Carla.
“God bless the child that’s got his own,
that’s got his own…”
*Since I recently hinted at writing a memoir in verse, this seems like a great space and time to get started. I’ve been writing episodes and reflections as they come to me, generating as much material as I can. Later I’ll group and prune my harvest. For now the goal is to keep producing, edit later.