The only color

Raina J. León

verde, verde, verde every color is verde
and i think on federico garcía lorca,
how i read this poem to him, days old and nearly weightless,
his whole body less than six pounds on my chest
and now he stands a wild octopus boy
on a chair reaching for the markers
to draw one of the cars he says i always drive.
verde, verde he says, though the uncapped tool
streams orange and his father says,
he knows what the best color is.
i say, naranja, he has to know his colors
and go into a diatribe about school,
not being behind. it is not about school.
he is my son and so the box waits:
a check mark of abuses woven into his identity.
he won’t ever be able to just be the creative child
who says verde, verde, verde for all the colors
and is glorified for how his mind stretches divergent.
my husband does not know that the box
can be a casket and each day
we must fight for it to not be.
ahmaud ran on a street lined with green leaves.
lorca wrote a poem. they shot him, too,
so bright. i just want my son
to know his colors and live.

Raina J. León headshot

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia. She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo, and Círculo de Poetas and Writers She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra: dis(locate) and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. Her poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work has been published in well over 100 journals and anthologies. She is a member of the SF Writers Grotto and The Ruby in San Francisco. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She is also a creative arts practitioner and co-learner holding space in various communities. She is passionate about Afro-futurism, genealogy and walking in relationship with our ancestors, ecopoetics, writing for change, writing for healing and health, and mothering.