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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 993
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The girls at Ferrand weren't retarded,
but "maladjusted and emotionally disturbed."
Though several years in the "retard" rooms
had convinced most, some
survived loud and sure.
A short walk from school
at lunchtime, we dared a slaughterhouse.
Men in bloody aprons threw us
cow eyes for souvenirs. We tossed them
like hot potatoes--
the stark blue iris,
the shining orb.
Doubling back through alleys,
we bounced them like
rubber balls, bounced
on them--to find unsquashable muscle.
Toi Derricotte is author of four books of poetry and a memoir, The Black Notebooks. The Black Notebooks won the Annisfield-Wolf Award in nonfiction and the nonfiction award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 1997. Her latest book of poems, Tender, won the Paterson Poetry Prize in 1998. She is co-founder (with Cornelius Eady) of Cave Canem, the first workshop for African-American poets.