I Don’t Know What You’re Scared Of

but for me, it’s formal dining rooms and how to eat neatly in them
and family portraits with everyone clad in the same shade of beige
and how unlike your mom is from my mom and how unlike you
are from me, even though I hunger for you and would like to sit
with you in the car with your brothers while you talk about what
I don’t understand, like football and Catholic school and loving
your hometown even after leaving it. I want to tell you the reason
why these things scare me but I’m too invested in the pearliness
of your skin, yet another region of unlikeness, and the strange way
I touch you and feel ivory and snowfall and Jesus and America
and everything I wanted to be when I was younger and obsessed
with purity, whiteness, the privilege I could taste on my first love’s
lips, later stuck in my teeth, then in my throat. I’m not scared
of you, not at all, but the way I choke back my first language
when I shake hands with the world that will never welcome it.

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