SOL Tuesday: Memoir fragment

“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

classical ballet

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

master dancer.

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.


4 thoughts on “SOL Tuesday: Memoir fragment

  1. “light skinned Carla/ who danced ‘God Bless The Child’/ as if she were Billie Holiday herself.” This memoir, this verse is dense with meaning – the song, the envy, the characters, the values… I want to read more. Looking forward to your next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

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