“Do I look like Trayvon Martin?”
my friend asks playfully. Perhaps…
It is nighttime and the cold stabs
our faces, maybe like that time when…
“I just put my hood on,” he says.
It is October. We could freeze to death
playing this game of lookalike black boys.
Looking like black boys. I look at him.
I look away. I say: “I’m not answering
that question.” We walk, one of us
forgetting. Perhaps…But the image
haunts me. Not the one of the black boy
wearing the hoodie who can’t be brought
back, his eyes fixed frozen in time,
as if he could die again playing this
game of looking. Game of witness.
Game of living history. Game of looking back.
Looking Black. Not this one sprayed
on shirts and posters, because everyone
became him. Even I, again, became…
Stuck here, the image of the dead
black boy, dead black body laying
atop the sheet of green earth is ingrained
in my mind. Boy body covered by stars
and stares. Becoming fantastic.
Covered in white eyes that say
doesn’t he look like that black boy.
All the time I’m playing lookalike.
All the time I am playing...
Are you looking at this body like I am?
You have seen his face masked by hood
but in this scene you see: white man
sees black boy. Plays police.
Black fights back. White shoots
black. Body becoming lookalike and:
“Do I look like Trayvon Martin?
I just put my hood on.” I think…
I look black. I look back. I find the light
below the abdomen, above the knees and
with arms spread out at sides and ankles
crossed he is an angel. Is this how he fell
in death, a last offering? The fantastic
black boy body does it again.
Who possesses it this time lying
in this state? Lying in state. State we are in.
Look beyond the body. Are you
reading it like I am? Are you
looking for signs of life: eyes wide open,
the mouth ajar as if stuck on words?
I am stuck on them, the words he said.
What he did not say. You are stuck
on the motion his body makes, as if
he has gotten himself into something
he cannot get out of. Maybe…
What have I gotten myself into?
Like these legs, I am twisted:
who is he without the hoodie?
Dissected: black is watched
with or without head gear. Black is shot
with or without protection. With or
without hands in the air. Knees on the ground.
Stop shooting, do I look like…
I just put my hood on
and walked into the night. And got
my diploma. And represented. And ran
for my life. I am thinking b(l)ack:
I am looking beyond this image.
I am looking at my friend with his hood,
the cold air passing between us.
I am looking at him, son of a black
father and white mother. I am stuck
on the words of two black boys
and consider the question: “Do I look like
Trayvon Martin? I just put my hood on.”
Black looks at black. Black sees black
but black does not answer the question.
In the picture the eyes in his head are looking
up. His mouth is open. His hood is off but
I cannot hear him. I am choking on his words.
I consider the question, bountiful head
exposed. I want to ask: “Do I look like you?”
Issue 17 • Spring 2016