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Pieces
by Janet Granger

Cold slabs upon the table, we are all the same as cadavers.
Ask any medical student.
Pieces of external details differ; the color of hair, eyes, skin.
One cannot see the internal pieces we hold as different:
education, religion, politics.
Splayed open by the knife, our hearts, lungs, and livers function
the same.

So is it not strange that it is those insignificant or
invisible pieces that we say make us
different?
That inspire words and deeds like
enemy, hate, war, genocide?
On that shiny, steel table none of those pieces makes a difference, keeps us alive.
They only inspire fear,
when our pieces do not match someone else's
perfectly.
And fear is the one piece we can all sacrifice.

On the first day of the 8th grade, I sit at my new desk,
my stomach churning.
I see a boy enter the room, more afraid than I, for
he is new.
I am alone.
He takes the empty seat in front of me.
No one greets him;
they are engaged in their ready-made friendships.
I take a deep breath and say,
"Hi. Are you new?"
He turns and looks at me.
"Yes," he smiles.
I tell him my name.
He tells me his.
I fall in love with his soft brown eyes and long black eyelashes.

Five years later, he is big-man-on-campus as we graduate,
still one of the few blacks in our school.
He writes a note of thank-you in my yearbook,
for he never forgot.
He never knew my terror, my shyness;
only his own,
relieved by a girl's quiet greeting.
And so,
one day,
two children gave up pieces of their own fears.

One day.




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Document last modified on: 04/20/1997

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