Taped to the side of their metal desks
lists on pink post-its written in sixth-grade-girl-bubble-hand of
golden-haired girls with last names 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 back of your throat like mucus,
something that must be spat out in order to be heard.
When I complained, my mother said
she hid her lunch in her lap at school
so they wouldn’t see her dirty-wop-sandwiches.
wished for their white, tasteless slices of wonder
instead of the thick dago bread
Grandma punched with her own brown knuckles,
the kind she tries to re-invent now with a bread machine.
Later, I learned Vander wasn’t an incantation from a Nordic god,
a blessing of blonde curls and aqua eyes denied me.
It simply meant “from the.”
The golden 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.