my initials are BA. stands for badass
Bradley Senior College.png

The Last Semester


8th grade
christmas in cabo
ziplining we go
but as we arrive
my eyes point
notices that
skin color of my family: brown
matches skin color of workers
everyone else
pale skin

discomfort calws into my shoulders
nervousness shakes in my stomach
back then, i don’t know why i feel this way

as i stand on the side
5’4 in denim short
brown hands that do not know a hard day’s work yet
waiting for my turn
for my body to dangle by rope
sliding and flying across canyon
a white little boy
maybe just around the age of learning to ride a bicycle
steps away from his parents up to me
my eyes listen to the uncertainty in his
as he looks at me
as harmless words to him skip from his lips
”where do i go”

flash cloud of confusion crowds my crown
but my finger rises in correct direction
laughter fills my ears
but laughter not from my mouth
laughter from the white sun burned lips of his parents
their lips spit out
”he thinks he works here”

smiles appear on everyone’s face
some nervous
even a crooked one on mine
as a strange laugh limps from my lips
as pain jabs my lungs like punching bags

for rest of fun trip
my heart keeps trying to catch its breath
my mind wraps its arms around my heart
consoling it

as i reflect now
i realize the laughter
though seems harmless
causes significant discomfort with a name i now know
placing my brown skin only as a lower level status
only smart enough to hook up safety belts
around white wealthy waists
though nothing wrong with this type of work
for all work can take a place on a pedestal
their laughter does not see me ever soar like them
their laughter only sees dirt staining my skin

but their laughter does not see
how my eyes focus like a microscope
on the packed ideas in the container of one word
how my heart propels me
to turn in all assignments for her
she who no longer walks on this earth
the same she who sits in cold car chairs
in my 1st year in elementary
multiplication table between her hands
voice cheering me on
as my eyes move across the board
multiplying any number my eyes catch

but despite their laugther
picture this
2 weeks from now
brown boy in black gown
brown brogues waltzing across stage
hand open
receiving padded piece of paper
sign of intelligence in the academy
from the university where
mascot matches state’s national animal
the university where fists always rise in the air
soon the only laughter that fills my ears
comes from my lungs
trying to catch the breath running in and out of its body
overflowing with joy
because brown boys like me
do find ways to soar

things are getting more tough and tough. not a lot of time for self-care anymore or self-reflection. i'm very tired. i need to sleep. i have an interview tomorrow.

Bradley Afroilan