Tinderbox is fundraising to support our next ten years. Check out our GoFundMe! Donations will be matched up to our $1,000 goal.

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 marlinmjenkins.tumblr.com and @Marlin_Poet.