The first time I visited a friend’s home in a nicer neighborhood

When I think about / Detroit


                                          I think about black friends / who looked more foreign


to me than Aiden / or Michael or Brian or Ryan


                                          and the other kindergartners / who lived


on the other side / of the school


                                          I think about how I never / until college


saw a black person / play soccer


                                          how at Aiden’s house / his sister cried


when we tried to play soccer / because


                                          Aiden kicked the ball / into her shin


(unintentionally / I assume)


                                          and it ricocheted off his knee / hitting her shin twice


and before: when she said / we shouldn’t play


                                          without shin guards / just in case


and after: when I thought to say / but didn’t say


                                          to both him / and to myself


don’t apologize: / how could you


                                          have known / it would result in this?




When I think about / Detroit


                                          I see / Aiden’s sister’s


tears / can’t remember

                                          her voice / see myself


leaving / at eighteen


                                          for the suburbs / I must keep saying


to myself again / and again this guilt


                                          alone / changes nothing.


Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and is a poetry student in University of Michigan's MFA program. His writings have been given homes by The Journal, Word Riot, The Puritan, and CURA, among others. You can find him online at and @Marlin_Poet.