Cave Canem: A Special Section
She is five and if she crouches between the dropped leaves of the mahogany tabletop no one can see her. Their voices rise, fall, break in waves against the swirled grain, red brown and smelling of the bottle of lemon oil in the hall closet. Soft or pointed like a whittled stick, the voices whiffle the crocheted doilies, ping against brass candlesticks, rattle the china in the china cabinet. She hears secrets this way. Once she looked Miz Robinson dead in the eye, said she was due in June, and the baby would be a Cancer. Her eyes, they said, were spooky when she said it. She knows too much, they say. Their eyes follow her now when she’s not looking, when she’s mixing cakes for her E-Z Bake Oven, dressing Calamity Jiddle for school. The table has clawed iron feet and the leaves look like wings. If it were a storybook table, or a dream, the feet would clutch and fly her east of the sun. Sometimes, now, the voices talk about her, about her sight, how it’s just like Aint Geneva’s. Geneva wore glasses, cat-eyed, [End Page 994] with pearlie rims. Even when they put her in the ground last year. She doesn’t want to wear glasses. She doesn’t want the kids to call her four eyes.
Kendra Hamilton, a candidate for the PhD in English at the University of Virginia, has published poems in Callaloo. Her scholarship and journalistic work have appeared in a number of periodicals, such as ArtLies, New Delta Review, Southern Cultures, The Houston Chronicle, Public News, and Black Issues in Higher Education. She received the MFA degree from Louisiana State University, where she was a winner of an American Academy of Poets Prize for the title poem of her sequence, Confessions of a Redbone.