Garvey’s Choice

Garvey’s alone,
Out back by the slide,
Dancing to the groove of his own music.

Joe saw Garvey dancing, and joined right in.
Two boys, dancing in the music.
First friendship.

Garvey’s teased for his roundness.
Even his sister calls him “Sweet Chunk”.
Garvey thinks his mom, dad, and sis could all fit inside his shadow.
Too-Skinny-For-Words mocks him in the hallway, throwing meanness.

Dad’s busy making him into something he’s not.
Not a football player, Dad.
Not even close.

Joe reminds Garvey: at least you’ve got a dad.
Joe’s dad skipped out a long time ago.

White-skinned Manny looks into the world through pink eyes.
“Albino boy”.
When he first sees Manny, Garvey’s words get trapped in his mouth.
“Sorry.”
The word can’t describe what Garvey senses.
How would it be to face the world,
Forever on the defense because of pink eyes and white skin?

“This is me. Get over it.”
Manny’s words, short and sweet.
If kids yell “albino boy”, I don’t turn around.
Choose the name you answer to.
Wise words.
Second friendship.

Garvey takes a chance.
Makes a choice.
Fills the auditorium with his song.
His heart floating full and light
As he sings.

Dad beams pride like a nova.

Nikki Grimes chose to tell Garvey’s story in Tanka, an ancient poetry form from Japan.
Dive into his life:  buried wounds, fragile hopes, new-found friendships, expanding dreams.
All there, ready to be shared, keen and clear.
Rising on swells, bright as the stars.

–Kate Calina

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