Outside the Lines

When young, we dream of growing within perfect lines.

I ended up with my father’s hands:

broad palms, stubby fingers.

His hands are strong and honest, yet,

even now, in restaurants with strangers,

I hide mine beneath the table.

I can’t see black without imagining red or blue;

I don’t believe in white without yellow or gray.

My mother’s hands are slender,

and she is almost six feet tall.

I am shorter, my grandmothers’ heir.

Like pictures from the coloring book of a three-year-old,

our faces are mottled, with scribbled lines bleeding

out to the space around us.


[© Barbara Burt; unpublished]