a white Victorial house with a picket fence in East Austin

Poem: ‘Whitewashing’


With every stroke the white paint splatters back down
on me. It melts into my skin, Buelito’s coffee hands
pour more paint into my pail. He urges me to continue
painting our house. I ask him, Why

are you black? With a worn-out half smile,
he says, Guerito, my mother, she didn’t love me.
One day, when I was a baby, she forgot me
outside. I got burned up. That’s why
I’m not guerito like you.
Against his dark skin

his hazel eyes are lost. From his words, Someday we’ll be done,
laughter streams, like his blood, from him to me as we walk
around the white house. My soles settle
into his footprints. He pours gasoline
on my hands and shows me how it is best
used to cleanse the white paint from my skin.

[Featured image by Matthew Rutledge]

Do you think free access to journalism like this is important?
The Texas Observer is known for its fiercely independent, uncompromising work — which we are pleased to provide to the public at no charge in this space. That means we rely on the generosity of our readers who believe that this work is important. You can chip in for as little as 99 cents a month. If you believe in this mission, we need your help.


Gerard Robledo is a San Antonio poet who works at San Antonio College and the Barrio Writers youth program.


You May Also Like:

Top