A Significant Reason
Suzanne Ondrus

And maybe I’m really at fault.
I can circle two events
showing different reactions
to the whites approaching you.

Maybe I could have saved break-
ing our hearts, but I couldn’t
forget how you smiled, asking
me to take a walk, while I
was waiting for my van.

Just down to the corner where
a tree was blooming. I stopped
to look up at it and smiled.
You stopped, and with your long arms
reached a large flower, snapped it
off, and descended it down.
Then we turned, the headlights

of the van approached, lighting
up our shining; I wanted it
a moment longer. I
floated, smiling, to the van’s
door. You waved goodbye. I hadn’t
been shy. There were no comments
inside. I held the red-orange
blossom to my nose and smiled
all the way among white

But there’s a second circle,
and this one’s filled with shame.

Like a schoolboy, you waited
for that van, for moments
with me before the rest
of the house returned. I waited
for those same moments too,
but perhaps
for a different

I could be away from my own
judging thoughts if we were
out of sight—black and white

behind closed doors. Our shared smiles
a secret. My shame hidden.

My shame silent. But it’s not
possible to live a life
buried. And I have to own
it now—I have difficulties
saying my boyfriend’s
African, he’s got black skin,
kinky hair, big protruding
lips and a flared nose—And I
love his lips, skin and nose.
If I could have only one,
it would be his nose. Its bridge
fanning out into his eyes and
its nostrils wide enough
for baby snails, makes me smile and
willing to stroke it for hours
like his: cinnamon face,
licorice shin scars, carbon hair,
sandstone palms, and pepper freckles.

But I shamefully must circle
back, to where you were waiting
like a schoolboy,
sitting at a table
outside by the gate,
playing cards
with the neighborhood guys.

The van pulled up.

Inside I felt the teasing
towards the last woman
who too had someone waiting,
smiling, at the gate.

Silent. Shamed. Afraid.

Inside they saw outside—
your head and eyes lifted up,
but beyond that they saw the
corners of your mouth lift and
said to me: “Looks like someone’s

waiting for you too.” Inside
something shattered.

All day just to see her jump
off the bus, sling her backpack
over her right shoulder,
and push her glasses up.

I moved to get off the van,
Not a word spoken from me.

All day just to feel her hand
quickly clasp mine, her middle
fingertip snap against mine
and feel it slowly pull
against my palm.

You raised your hand towards me. I
looked down, and walked past.

Eventually your friends left
and you came inside. You pushed it
aside, I pushed it aside
and we both smiled. How

ever did we manage
to hide from this truth?

But the light of day is necessary
for flowers and humans.

There’s something about the wind
on your face—new molecules
constantly coming into
contact with it that allows
for continuous new yous.

And I want us to be in the open air
so dead leaves can be blown off,
Your Aunt has a bee in her bonnet.
Have you told your Father yet?
so we can reflect the sun,
I want to make lots of
beautiful babies with you.
and slowly unfold, petal

Return to Archive