Short Changing

By Jada Elder-Wilkerson

“Ky Sees You” © Powell Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/powellburns/13975199054/)

I’m 5’2
but my attitude is 6’11,
due to one too many incidents of
being mistaken for sophomore instead of senior,
offered dinosaur chicken nugget dinner menus,
and being literally overlooked by my peers.
I’ve decided to don the stilts of self-recognition
in order to outgrow being the stepstool of society,
though what you see standing in front of you is a short trip to disappointment.
In actuality my curvaceousness meets no conflict,
my hips are home to civilizations that deem them their deity,
my silhouette shames the sun to set and summons the stars,
stardust speckled across shoulders,
every imperfection a landmark on nothing short of a road to heaven,
every blemish blissful,
every scar seductive.
My collarbones carry the cosmos,
spine an extended metaphor,
although my physical entity only encloses shallow pools.
I encapture oceans,
warm waves of ever-expanding euphoria
bluer than Aryan iris,
satisfying succulence,
no one is left thirsty.
I carry the justice in the crook of my arm,
swaddling the child starved by society.
A mother to pluto, deemed too insignificant to be whole,
the black boys of the solar system.
I’ve decided that I will take up enough space to make them uncomfortable,
like front row afro obstruction,
like intellect mixed with ebonics,
I will no longer shrink myself into the archetype
of academic angel,
sanctified schoolgirl,
educated insecurity.
I am so much more than any SAT score can quantify,
any essay can illustrate,
any acceptance can validate.
These bones will not be bent into a word limit.
I’ve decided to staple each of my sides to the edges of the universe and fill every space in between
so that there will be no more room for shortchanging.

Jada Elder-Wilkerson, an English major attending Temple University has been involved with the arts for many years. She started writing poetry in third grade and still continues to pursue her passion. She regularly competes poetry slams and is involved with the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. Her work has appeared in the NAACP Philadelphia branch Awards Gala in 2016, and the nationally known SlamFind Youtube channel. You can find her at @jadamonet_ on Instagram.

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