Stained (11 of 12, half marathon)

I looked down the line of other students’ hands. Their skin was white and plump, like they never had to pick a bean in their lives. They didn’t have to earn a dollar in the fourth grade. I put my hands together, hoping to cover one with the other. I noticed the black stains deep in my fingerprints and the lifelines of my palms. I had done the dishes the night before. I had washed my hands after using the bathroom. But I was still stained, marked a worker, poor and in need. I hid my hands in the open compartment of my desk, wanting something to hold onto, I grabbed a pencil but held too tightly and broke it in half.

One thought on “Stained (11 of 12, half marathon)

  1. Ohhh, wow. That’s intense. I could feel the embarrassment at the stares of others (whether real or just imagined). Reminds me of a line from a Michael Chitwood poem, “Ties,” how uncles cleaned dirt/grease from under their nails with jackknives, and how, as a kid, I was tasked with gathering and cleaning black walnuts, which left my hands stained for at least a week. This was a powerful line for me, ” I hid my hands in the open compartment of my desk.” And then hearing the snap of the pencil. I could “feel” this poem deeply.

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