South Side Graduate

From the book Forming Galaxies by Zack Taylor

They treated us like dirt.
They did not know that our power
runs like the Santa Cruz River.
Not always,

but on the most spontaneous of days,
we can run with enough force to change landscapes.
Clean out the ditches we come from.
Shattered glass.
Broken streets and dirt.

We’re supposed to take pride in it all.
Stand tall like the saguaro in his pile of dirt
We come from cringing spines at the
mention of the South Side.
We come from the luck it takes to have two parents.
From swap meets and taco shops.
We come from average.
Average was supposed to be good enough
to be our ticket out of here.

Education holy until
dirt touched it.
Until we had to work thirty hours a week.
Until we couldn’t afford lunch on campus.
Didn’t know how we’d get to campus.
Lost our scholarships.
Didn’t realize until we got to the big pond
dirt doesn’t always float.
South side high schools pushed us to get here
but never gave us the tools to survive.

The leading cause of college freshmen dropout is
Not having a sense of belonging.
Withheld from representation on campus.
Being a spec of
dirt on a white wall.

Seeking sanctuary in the South Side,
made fun of the out of state students for
taking selfies with a cactus.
Find comfort in that one desk in that one corner
with writing all over it, because it reminded you where you come from.

Being dirty means you are allowing growth.
Allowing your yellow leaves to leave your palo verde limbs
and lift up broken streets to change.

They labeled you dirt, in a desert.
Let the dirt of your hollowed out Santa Cruz run
and give them hell dirt child.