by Robalu Gibsun

When dads run
away, black boys run
crazy—before tying their shoes.

He trips to school in the rain with an open back pack.
His mama yells, “You forgot your hat!” But Blackboy doesn’t look back. Blackboy
runs mad. Blackboy runs late. Every classmate knows Blackboy shows up mad late.

“Stop! No running in the hallway,” Ms. Whitelady says “What were you thinking? Use your head!” He says “Okaaaay” but does not understand. The rain rain goes away. Class goes out to play. Blackboy races the other boys on the steaming blacktop; a pack of Crayola girls watch from the shade, yelling “RUN, BLACKBOY RUN! YOU’RE AS BLACK AS THE BLACKTOP, STAY OUTTA THE SUN!” He screams “Shut up!” But their pointed fingers strike him down and their laughter becomes a suffocating thundercloud. Again, it pours; they go inside. He cries ‘til his eyes go red yet his boys reply “Stop—being a cry baby.” He says “I’m not!” But they do not believe. He leaves. Not in his right mind, he proves them wrong.

Blackboy walks to the end of a rainbow and finds a colored girl with gold coins in her eyes, scares off the leprechauns and promises to never leave. He lies—her down in a bed of four-leaf clovers. Inside, she’s raining. But he forgot his hat. She opens the door; he runs through her hallway and makes her cry out “Baby” instead—her eyes roll back. He doesn’t look back. They make—a baby that cries out “ga-ga”s and “goo-goo”s; Ms. Whitelady didn’t specify which head to use.

Blackboy needs a new place to live ‘cause tough love is the only thing mama can afford to give. The baby stays at colored girl’s mama’s place. Blackboy runs by twice a week and jumps fences with child support nipping at his knees; he needs green. His boys say, “It don’t grow on the trees, it grow on the streets” so Blackboy goes—out to play—when his baby cries rainstorms. Colored girl stares out the window, hoping for a rainbow ‘cause Blackboy forgot his goal; so the toilet is the only pot he fills with gold. Blackboy rolls—paper like a big kid now, but ain’t saving the money to buy baby’s Huggies. He stops coming. Colored girl starts—calling mad. He picks up: She cries “Baby, I love you. We need you. Come back!”
He replies “Sorry my Love, I can’t. Long as I keep running, I might run into my dad.”

He doesn’t look back. Blackboy runs—colored girl mad crazy. Herself, she pulls up
by the shoe laces, walks over pothole puddles and sees her reflection
in rainbows that committed suicide. And then pawns in her eyes
for just enough gold coins to buy a month’s worth of food
for the leprechaun-sized baby with a mouth like
an open back pack who grows up to cry out,
“Mama, where is my dad?”

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