“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?”


Malcolm Tariq

Issue 17 • Spring 2016