And then I listened.

And the stories flew over me like gasps

stories that made me forget the spaces that I had been in before

stories that erased the thoughts I had and replaced them with new ones

And I took deep breaths so as not to apologize for things I had never said

for words I had never even thought

and I had nothing but disbelief at the vast space that was explained to me

the space of existing in a place where you are never reflected in others

where you are never reflected at all

a space that my life didn’t approach

I heard tales of expectations and misinterpretations

I heard words like different, weird, and not allowed

and could not manage responses beyond sheer disbelief

the burdens of people I could not lessen weighed on me

and still it was nothing compared to theirs

“sassy”, “overachievers”, “rappers”, aggressive”

were words used to discribe people as though they were themselves the group

children spoke of triangles in square peg, round hole worlds

children spoke of being whole.  

the words, “does is get better?” were unanswerable by me

I don’t know, I replied, I will help, I replied

I will climb towards your space

never really being there with you 

I will help you build a home, here, in the place between 

I will try to follow where others have led

and lead when I can’t find a path

but I will never live your stories

I will never be in your space

So I will listen as we build something better together. 

 

**this is the second of what I hope will be many reflections from NAIS’ People of Color Conference in Washington, DC. If you teach at an Independent School and haven’t been here, get on it.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “And then I listened.

  1. thank you for sharing – both thoughts and poetry can be so intensely personal, and i appreciate your willingness to open yourself up to the blogosphere! i look forward to the rest of the reflection series!

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