Carnegie Mellon University

Third Place for High School Poetry (tie)

"Twisted Face"

I picked up the white tag on the ripped blue jeans.
My fingers trailed across the black price number
printed at the bottom of the tag.
The old white woman in Macy’s gave me a dirty look.

My mother and I, both standing shorter
than the average female for both of our ages,
browsed among the Levi Strauss clothing
that was my brand since birth.
My mom picked up a shirt. Like usual
I didn’t like it. I told her that I didn’t like it.
The white woman appeared around the corner.
She searched the shirt rack, but I could tell
that it wasn’t shirts she had been searching for.
It was the article of clothing that she thought
could have been hiding in my mother’s purse.

My mother worked hard for what she had,
for all of the things that she’d been able to give me.
What a shame for her that she had to suffer
from the pain of being different in this world.

My mom asked me to try on the jeans along with
other jeans and shirts she had let me pick out.
She told me to hurry up. She was always impatient.
I’m almost done, I replied. I came out of the stall.
These are good, I said to my agitated mom.
We left the dressing room, the old white woman
asked if we needed help.

We continued shopping, even after my mom
whisper-shouted at me for not having much sense of what I like.
The line was as long as Rapunzel’s hair, but we had no choice.
The sooner the better, but it wasn’t until later
That we got near the front of the line.

What’s with the face? The old white woman had an attitude.
My mother could’ve told her that she was rude, inconsiderate.
She could’ve said it was her attitude that caused her twisted expression,
but she said, Oh, nothing. It had been nothing at all.