Precise lines,
they say,
that’s what they measure by -
my messy scrawls, as I explain,
aren’t the way it is.
how do I convey
that the world
isn’t color in the lines?

I once wrestled a kid
in eighth grade.
He was bullying my brother.
I threw him to the ground,
all four foot of me – never five -
and I was sent home with
a joke about joining the wrestling
he was sent home with
suspension and anger.
I never saw him again.
- and though it shouldn’t matter,
he was black and
I am white.

I scrawl and scrawl
all over my life.

In high school I fight
with a friend over
Catholic beliefs.
I don’t understand rituals.
in my ignorance they don’t
make sense.
it turns to insults.
all night we yell.
friendships fail to the
questions of faith
I had been fighting
all year.
“Faith,” the host mother says,
“isn’t black and white. “
(She tells me she uses Buddhist
principles to underline her Jewish faith.)

At twenty-seven,
in a doctor’s office three
different shades of white,
a doctor in quiet tones
and black hair,
describes my brain as
I call my mother:
we walk memory lane,
picking up the leaves
of old, faded remembrances.
We agree it’s probably
been different my whole life,
creatively wired
to never color within the lines.

In fourth grade,
my art teacher got mad
at me.
my lines weren’t straight.
even with a ruler,
they lay on the page,
tipping hard left,
hard right,
making Pisa seem
a reliable place to lean.
She eventually started
to draw my lines for me.

And there they were,
the black-and-white lines
someone else drew.

-Kelsey Shaver