“My Brothers” by Madeline Smith”

Rodger Woodworth

The big coffee-colored hands of my brother ruffled my dark brown hair, pulled back into a knot of a ponytail, the best a girl of six could do.  I smiled up at them, jumping as the chain rattled when the ball smacked the faded  backboard.

My blue basketball shorts matched Carl’s and swished around my legs as I dodged Flay dribbling a basketball out of his reach.  They let me win.  I patted their warm backs, not noticing how my hand seemed whiter than a seashell tossed about rough waves, sanded down and drained of color, against their coca skin.

Gilbert grinned, his teeth white as snow against his mocha skin.  I leaned against the stone wall with blue paint peeling, and I screamed his name. Sweat dripped from his face, soaking his shirt as he was gasping for breath.  My brothers play hard.

We ate greens and fried chicken; they let the grease stain my white T-shirt that hung down to my knees.  We laughed and talked loud, smashed next to each other on an old sagging couch like mashed potatoes, as the football game played like thunder into the night.  Hot Cheetos were dipped in ranch along with pizza, as fries found hot sauce again and again.

Duct tape held our sneakers together that were piled at the door and tripped on every time someone entered.  No one moved them, it wasn’t something to get rid of, but something to add to.

As my Dad added to the pile of shoes, someone laughed, “Pastor Matt, you the blackest white man”.  He laughed and slapped skin with them all.  It was said in love, that I knew.  But what did it mean?

I am white.  My brothers are black.

(An award winning poem by our 15 year old granddaughter, a freshman at CAPA.  She doesn’t think it is her best but she doesn’t see it through the eyes of her proud Pap.  I share it in honor of Pastor Matt, who was my partner in ministry and Maddie’s Dad and brother Carl.  Both who have been with our Lord for the past several years.  Matt from cancer and Carl from bullets intended for another, a week before leaving for college.)

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