Except for my black leather backpack,
shoes, and the dark preserves that stained
my underwear, I was dressed in solid white
the day I flunked my algebra test.
I accepted my failure.
Palms placed against the wall,
I pushed hard against the pain.
My mother and the lies she told of how easy birth was.
God stretching the vagina like an elephant’s.
That particular evening, the sky was dark gray,
and the sun bled the sky crimson.
My mother, miscarrying in the bathroom
of that old rented house, calling and calling for my father.
The child, a fish-like form on the wet floor,
its black opened eyes gazed blankly at me.
I walked over to Mr. John’s office to go over the test.
He said math is easy. One plus one plus one is easy
I thought but I get confused with algebra.
In algebra substitute a number for x and y.
I had miscalculated.
I pushed my head back
and howled. This is what they looked like, the others
that I had decided to let go. Each time I’d grab
the doctor’s hand in gratitude.
I could have fitted the length of each fish-like
form nicely in the palm of my hand.