She tossed the word with careless scorn,
darted back into her first-grade classroom.
And I, just passing in the hallway,
caught it up and held it,
turning it over in my hands.
Like night slowly creeping in
the knowledge that it was thrown with purpose.
Child to child.
Until that word
I was just one among many
never seeing the marks of my straight dark hair
and eyes that disappeared when I smiled.
Until that word pointed its beam into my corner.
The word never truly left me.
Through high school, college, first job, second job, third job, dating, marriage, motherhood.
(My children have my eyes.)
Even today I turn it over in my hands,
sifting for truth in its folds.