from "Message to the
Nurse of Dreams"
by Lisa Sandlin
WHAT A RELIEF it would have been if Johnetta Pierce and I had met ina
dream. We could have traded legs a white set for borwn, brown for
white and walked around the
schoolyard in our new ones. Sawed open ribs and looked
inside. Tried on each other's tongues. Traded brains and dreamed each
other's dreams all in
order to answer the two questions neither of us ever asked aloud:
Are you or are you not the
basic same as me? Could you consider yourself my friend?
But we met in the ninth grade of Port Sabine high School. Curious as
magnets, skittish, our hands fluttering from pocket to hip to lap to
twirling pencil, we kept our distance and memorized each other.
I noted how Johnetta's eyebrow hairs looked like the shavings in an
etch-a-sketch board, how she held herself formally, with both knees
pointing in one direction and her ankles lined up, how she could hardly
talk to me without breaking into an embarrassed smile, how she didn't try to
like the white girls a stomach that wasn't dead flat. I don't know
what she recorded about me. But early on I caught her calculating if I was
human in the same way she was. I swear. That's what made me like her 3
she'd do that. Johnetta studied me, puzzled, trying to determine what sort
of shape flickered inside me and measure it against her own. That was the
kind of logical, common sense activity I understood.
Reprinted with permission
from Message to the Nurse of Dreams
Copyright © 1997
by Lisa Sandlin
Cinco Puntos Press