Taped to the sides of their metal desks
lists on pink post-its written in sixth-grade-girl-bubble-hand
names of golden-haired girls all starting with Vander
Vanderzee, Vanderbaan, Vanderbeek, Vansomeren.
The friend list I never made
having hair and eyes the color of earth
and a last name that forms deep in the throat like mucus,
something that must be spat out in order to be heard.
When I complained, my mother told me
how she used to hide her lunch in her lap
so they wouldn’t see her dirty-wop-sandwiches
made with the thick dago bread
Grandma punched in with her own brown knuckles
the kind my mother can’t quite reinvent with her bread machine.
But back then, she lusted after their white, poreless slices of wonder.
Later, I learned Vander wasn’t a blessing doled out from Nordic gods.
It simply meant from the.
The golden haired girls were not from the heavens.
They were from the hills, from the creek, from the swamp, from the earth.
From the same dust and clay as me.