This is how I learn envy. I watch the snow
_ _Getting gathered in a young man’s
Hands and thrown across the yard to become
_ _The sting in another boy’s face. Snow covers
The world whiter than you want when you clean
_ _The tub. Let’s be that cold. When we die, Rick,
Let’s leave the land wet without us. Say it, baby.
_ _Say you’ll die with me. Open your mouth. Say
I knock on your door in the midst of a blizzard
_ _Like those two Mormons you call
A couple of Adams, blond, clear-faced. I’ll be black
_ _With awful scars below my eyes. Say you let me in.
Say it like you mean it. I promise not to proselytize.
_ _We can stand in the kind of silence you always find
In another boy’s face. We can watch the snow
_ _Make everything right. Just the way you
Want it. Just the way I want to be. Tell me
_ _I’m not the black lines above your eyes.
What would you do with me, Rick, if I were white?
Jericho Brown holds a C. Glen Cambor Fellowship at the University of Houston’s PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature. He is also a Cave Canem Fellow and the recipient of a 2006 James A. Michener Fellowship. He has an MFA from the University of New Orleans, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Callaloo, and Bloom. (updated 3/2007)