Simki Ghebremichael



From a West Coast suburb,
we moved to Georgetown in '65.

When my little sister saw snow she twirled
with joy as the soft flakes pelted her face.
She saw the white fluff piling up on the cobbled streets,
and she asked, "Daddy, why are all the brown people
shoveling the snow?"

At 3317 Que Street, Victoria's hair glimmered like copper
from swimming in the public pool on Volta Place.

I called my stepfather, "Big Daddy."
He had large, hairy legs and large,
hairy arms and a large, hairy chest.
He'd put his hands over his head in a circle
and raise his big knee and say, "And now,
wearing his daughter's leotard,
Mr. Page dances."

In the autumn of '66, a letter came
from a gentleman named Thomas Page
who lived on 3117 Que Street, Northeast.
Our painting had been delivered to his house.

The same name, the same street,
in Northwest, in Northeast,
such a long distance.

That distance was shattered
April 4, 1968
when our savior
was struck down
for our sins.

Soldiers camped in the Georgetown Playground
stowing their gear in the empty pool.

I dreamed I was sharing a taxi
with Coretta King and her family.
She was holding a baby and she suddenly
asked me to take the baby, to care for him,
to nurture him and help him grow,
and I said, No, I can't do that,
I'm not worthy.

But it was like a seed, a seed
her family had planted
in me.

Simki Ghebremichael has published two chapbooks, 23, and Getting the News from Poems. Her short story, "African Love," was published by Interracial House Press in Berkeley. She lives in Bethesda, MD and has recently completed a biography of African-American civil rights activist Pauli Murray. She will enter the MFA program at American University in Fall 2006.


Published in Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 2006.