“Faces”

Momma’s Face

Momma’s got pink eyes, always wet and dribbling like the leaky sink. Drip. Virginia taught me a song once about Minnie Ha Ha who had a daughter and her name was Laughing Water. Ha Ha. Drip. Drip. Drip. You sing it in a round. You go. You go. She goes. I go. So someone’s singing about Minnie and someone’s singing about laughing and someone’s dripping. Drip. Like Momma’s eyes, all pink and watery when she’s not laughing at something on TV or talking on the phone and twisting her hair up on wash day.

 

Daddy’s Face

Daddy’s got yellow eyes all around the brown and black. I drew him with golden rod eyes in school and Mrs. Klint said no. People have white eyes. I said no my daddy got yellow eyes like a wolf or a zebra. She said he didn’t. But he does. I like wolfs and zebras and I like my daddy. But the tiny box that pokes out of his chest looks evil. He says it’s supposed to make him better. Sometimes when he’s sleeping I touch it real fast to see what it’s doing under there. I can’t ever figure it out, and his skin’s too dark to see.

 

Uncle Lowell’s Face

Uncle Lowell’s got a long grey braid all the way to his butt. It looks like a horse tail. I never seen a horse tail up close. I never seen Uncle Lowell’s eyes. He always got sunglasses on. I don’t even know what’s behind them. Maybe he can’t see at all. Maybe that’s why he reaches up under my shirt and says Open your eyes girl. I never do.

 

Virginia’s Face

Virginia’s face was all teeth, big teeth that took up her whole head. She was goofy and always had braids. She was good at doing voices too. She’d say You ain’t grown yet just like Grandma used to. She used to say Screw horse tails and screw blind men too. She said it loud but never got caught. Virginia might have a different face now. Her teeth might have shrunk right up in her mouth. Maybe her forehead’s big. Maybe not.

 

Ms. Ella’s Face

Ms. Ella is always asking me questions. Only questions come out of her face.
How did that happen? What were you doing? Can you tell me more about that?

 

My Face

No, Ms. Ella

 

Ms. Ella’s Face

Can you tell me why you reacted that way?

 

Uncle Lowell’s Face

Horse tail. Open your eyes girl.

 

My Face

No, Ms. Ella.

 

Ms. Ella’s Face

How did that come about? Are you hungry? What did you do over the weekend?

 

My Face

 

 

Ms. Ella’s Face

How did that come about? Are you hungry? What did you do over the weekend?

 

My Face

Yes. Ms. Ella. I’m hungry.

 

Ms. Ella’s Face

All scrunched up. She’s talking to the principal. He looks real sad even though there’s a sticker on the window of an orange block that says Be Positive.  I can just see around it, and I can see their hands on their hips and on the desk. Ms. Ella smiles when the principal puts his big hand on her arm.

 

My Face

I can’t look anymore. She’s smiling at his hand but it covers her whole tiny shoulder. It makes my eyes pink and dribbly. Drip, like the sink.

About Charnell Peters

Charnell Peters' work has been published or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Altarwork, Puerto Del Sol's Black Voices Series, plain china, and Relief Journal, among other places. She enjoys writing about race, feminism, and reconciliation.