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Picnic On The Mall
They know they're eating watermelon.
I don't think they know they're kids,
much less Black Kids Eating Watermelon.
They are too much there for that,
too carefully negotiating interim agreements
between smooth bare legs and the marks
hard-pressed grass will leave,
too much a part of each other's
separateness, limbs as tangled
in the eye's space as the directions
or implied directions of their gazes.
They look more interested in each other
than stereotypes have any business being.
Stereotypes are interesting. The summer
tourists walking on the mall are torn
between being interested and interesting.
But these kids who may not know they are kids
(but know they can sit any old way
in the grass that also goes every
which way) are interested--in
each other, in what they are saying,
in the geometrical shapes of melon slices
and how each bite leaves scallop-marks,
all the wrong things, not one of them
looking at that big bland capitol dome
back there being interesting, but for us,
too, an afterthought, a brief optical detour,
our eyes quickly pulled back to this dance
of naked knees, bright shirts, lazy glances
and pink points of pure sweet interest.
October 6, 2002