White Girl, by Noelle Sterne

I see you everywhere,
hear you, watch you,

Walk? You own the street,
buttocks bumping, important rhythm,
laughing from the gut with your girlfriends.

Talk? You punch the air:
Come awwwn, girl! Mama gonna getchew!
String out words like song,
flaunt school English,
slur stretch drop letters, spurn syllables,
always with that bend of knowing.

 Songs? You know all the words—
singles, groups, rappers, crooners, hooters, shouters, praisers,
downloads crammed in devices and heads.
You mouth them everywhere,
dance steps careless, sure,
sidewalks, birthdays, gas and grocery lines.

Where you learn?
All my lessons never loosened my legs,
all the teaching never let me go.
But you—
size shape age clothes matty hair don’t matter.
You own the floor—
arms pumping, snaking, rippling, curling,
hands ruling, shaping the air,
feet in untaught Jackson synch,
whirls twirls taps twists turns,
eyes rolling, mouth moving, little grunts,
unmatched bend of importance.

Troubles? Your proud trumpeted history isn’t the only one.
Ha, you say. What troubles, poor little middle class white girl?
Okay, bloods. Poison of parents’ overexpectations,
best at everything, or no love.
Tyranny of never-let-up lessons
for relatives, neighbors, anyone who’ll listen:
No time for friends or games,
no time to dream or doodle.
And too much flesh in a thin girls’ world,
too many books in a dumb boys’ world,
yet always nursing aloneness, watching your guffawing joy.

Watching, can you look at me, just a little?
Can a white girl call you sistah?
Can a white girl call you friend?


Author, editor, writing coach, workshop leader, and academic mentor (Ph.D., Columbia University), I have published over 600 articles, stories, and poems in writing, literary, spiritual, and academic print and online venues. Based on my academic coaching and editing practice, my handbook for graduate students helps them overcome largely ignored nonacademic difficulties: Challenge in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). In my spiritual self-help book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011)I support readers in releasing regrets and reaching their lifelong yearnings. Going after my own dream, I completed my first novel and am stumbling through the second. Website: www.trustyourlifenow.com

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