Associate Professor of English Megan Gannon has poem published in journal

Megan Gannon, associate professor of English, has a new poem, “Dispatch from the Hotel Pool,” published in the fall/winter 2020 issue of Atlanta Review.

“Dispatch from the Hotel Pool”

In between days at the Magic Kingdom and Universal
Studios, we take a break from the crowds and lines

to lounge by the hotel pool: two sisters, a boy apiece,
hers from her belly and pale as our DNA, mine

too golden to have anything to do with me.
Above and below, the sky and water are the same

perfect shade of maybe-I-can-catch-my-breath-between-
water-basketball-and-mama-lookits, maybe my son

won’t need me to wade in and attend to him if another kid
will splash in the shallow end with him. Thank you,

little blond girl, whose mother five minutes later
calls her over, says something sternly, then sends

her off to the opposite end of the pool. Thank you,
little blond girl, for glancing back at my black son

and slowly over time floating back over, jumping with him
again and again into water clearer than any mirror

her mother has ever looked into before she calls
her daughter over and scolds her, sends her elsewhere.

I put down my book and consider strolling over
to that other mother, all smiles, asking is there

a problem, introducing myself and my son, but then I think
of the moms who can’t stroll over in way-too-much white skin

to convince a white lady their son’s okay, how just the act
of walking over sells out women whose great-grandmothers

were sold too many times. So I sit tight, simmer, watch
that other mother’s assumptions swirl my son like clouds still

too far out from shore to signal danger. For now, just
two children crouched side by side on the ledge

of the shallow end, when another girl runs up, bumps my son,
sends him dominoing into the blond girl who topples in

and comes up crying. I’m up, finding my flip flops, but already
the other mother is clearing a storm path, picking up my son

under the armpits and flinging him—without looking where
or how he’ll land—across the concrete. And now I know

I could touch a stranger with both hands—will—but halfway
across the cement I see my son has landed on his bottom,

surprised but unhurt, as I reach the woman who yells
back above my screaming, “I’m sorry, I misunderstood!”

You misunderstood? 1) That my child is worth something?
2) That your daughter’s brand of golden isn’t worth more?

3) That if you hover like a harpy for hours waiting for something
bad to happen at the hands of my son that eventually anything

bad that happens will be (you think) at the hands of my son?
He is safe, I am shaking and he is laughing—not sure why

that lady touched him or why I’m paler than usual. And I see
how I’ll do things differently from now on: for his sake

I’ll step in, flash my too-white smile and send up a silent
apology to all the black mothers of black sons I’m betraying

as I try to convince another white woman, this one, my son,
he’s alright. (Also this one. And this one. This one. That.)


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