Robin Coste Lewis reflects on a black female education in this poem from her National Book Award-winning volume, Voyage of the Sable Venus.
Art & Craft
I would figure out all the right answers
first, then gently mark a few of them wrong.
If a quiz had ten problems, I’d cancel
out one. When it had twenty, I’d bite my tongue
then leave at least two questions blank: ______ ______.
A B was good, but an A was too good.
They’d kick your ass, call your big sister
slow, then stare over your desk, as if you’d
snaked out of a different hole. Knowing
taught me—quickly—to spell community
more honestly: l-o-n-e-l-y.
During Arts and Crafts, when Miss Larson allowed
the scissors out, I’d sneak a pair, then cut
my hair to stop me from growing too long.