Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris


i listened to a grown man with a breaking voice
attempt to maintain masculinity
as he told the story of his six-year-old nephew
that left me questioning you.
as he showed a picture of a cute tan boy
with black hair and a wide smile
and bright brown eyes,
tears grew in his eyes
as he recounted how one week before,
doctors found cancer in the boy’s right eye
and this morning, that eye
was successfully removed.
i thought,
how could you?
lately i find myself spitting in your face
because you let people spit in mine
yet still find it a worthy cause
to preserve this body of mine
while a little boy
has to learn to live with one eye.
disproportionate grace keeps me
from wanting to get the facts straight,
partially afraid
that if you were to sit back
and reflect on all i have done,
you would wash your hands and move on,
leave me in my mess
and work to save little children again.
i have had sight but chose not to see,
been given many warnings
that i chose not to heed,
smiled many bright smiles
but never had my picture shown for an audience
as a story of tragedy.
my heart aches for that little boy,
feels the heaviness of the crookedness
that may soon accompany his smile.
i have rug burn from the rough voice
of a grown man trying to hold it together
while his family falls apart.
i do not understand and perhaps should not.
i just see the sad story of an child who used to smile
who now no longer has his right eye
and on the tip of my tongue burns the question:


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