Minidoka to Austin

Originally published in The American Journal of Poetry, Vol. 8, January 2020.

Texas doesn’t know what to make of her.
Is she white or colored? Rice-paper skin
folds at the corners of her origami eyes,
black like her hair. Mexican? they guess;
white, they settle on when she stands
before two bathroom doors, wondering
which is the one she can’t go in.

In the camp, they’d all been made to squat
in one room, flimsy cardboard stalls
their only modesty, made with their own hands.
Nothing had the luxury of whiteness there.
Not the rice they couldn’t eat,
not the loyalty tests they couldn’t refuse,
not the dust they couldn’t scrub from their skin.

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