21 (NaPoWriMo 2020– Karen)

You can bite into it,
a sweet Danish crumb
encased in an English
shell, melting onto
taste buds, denoting
notes of purity.

You hold it in mouth,
the fullness of two syllables
stressed, but light and unlike
the dead salt-saturated weight
of thick Middle Passage sails.

You can roll it over and under
tongue without fear of rope
burns, or the taste of charred skin
or the aroma of rusted shackles
souring breath and staining teeth.

There is no blood on it,
even when spat out in anger,
into a benign, blunted arrow aimed
at women who wield entitlement
and whiteness as swords that sing out
like wolf whistles of racism.

And even as a misnomer, it’s still a name
offering safety to anyone who says it.

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