An Exposé on Time

Write On! Poetry Prize Bronze Winner, Ages 13-18

by Cara Levicoff

When I was five, my nunnie told me that I shouldn’t talk to colored people in public. “What does ‘colored’ mean?” I asked,
Because surely people weren’t green.
My nanny told me not to mind;
Nunnie grew up in a different time

The shows my parents used to watch depicted straight stories,
Sometimes featuring the token gay couple
As though gay people only lived in pairs and were only men.
“Why do we have to watch these guys kissing?” my father asked,
But I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
He grew up in a different time.

Really, though, was it a different time?
Because, as far as I know, blacks and gays and independent women were held in strife.
They fought, and they lost, and they were beaten down
Until the whites of their eyes grew bright beneath the purple of their swollen skin.
And they got up and fought harder than the straight, white men
Who protested against the war waged by straight, white men.
Didn’t Nunnie know that the streets beneath her feet were paved by slaves? Didn’t my father know that the most powerful love can be found between two men or two women?

The first time a boy broke my heart, my mother held me in our old rocking chair And stroked my hair while I cried.
The first time a girl broke my heart, she screamed and accused and denied.
I just wanted her to dry my tears and tell me everything was going to be okay. Was that too much to ask for?
Of course it was.
She’ll never understand—
She grew up in a different time.

I hear my parents and grandparents shame and judge people they don’t know.
I hear the people I love spew hate like volcanic ash.
Their age and abundant wrinkles become empty excuses
Justifying their need to attack those who do not fit inside their boxes on the census:
Caucasian, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Catholic.

Everyone is straight until proven guilty
And I am still living under the guise of innocence.
Every day I want to scream,
“I’m gay and I’m here and you should love me for that!”
Yet I still live in the silence of the invisible crowd
Because a girl can’t love girls, you say, those people are odd.
But I’m one of “those people,” and I’m not sorry I’m a stain on your pristine white carpets.
My friends are gay, or trans, or ace, or non-binary, or Asian,
Or anyone who you accuse of being less than you.
I won’t ever let you suppress the person who I am
While you hide behind your armor of time.
That excuse won’t work, no, not anymore, not in this life of mine.

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Cara Levicoff is a senior at Fox Chapel Area High School. She is a writer and plays for her school’s varsity golf team. She will be attending Wake Forest University next year, and is interested in studying History and Creative Writing.

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