The desire to care less about things.

he holds my head in his hands and
he doesn’t call me a mexican. i think, su madre
would approve; there’s a word for brown mothers and
what they think is best: blanqueamiento. it took a while
to know the word for it, that brown mothers are similar if
not the same, and even i, third generation texas america, was
not excluded from that. i am tall and thin,
not like a mexican, and he looks to me when trying to think
of a spanish word; he does not forget.
would you have let men take photos of you naked so you could
pass through america and put on your hoop earrings
and pretend nothing happened to you?
that’s the most american thing in the world: to pretend
do i love him because my mother said I should, or do
i love him? mi abuelita tells stories of brown women
trying to pass to america and pass with a chemical bath
because americans didn’t know what brown would do to them,
they didn’t know if brown would stick, if la tos was different
if brown was contagious. my grandma was not yet born when she
came in and there were stories of women being photographed.
brown nipples eyeing down the polaroid arms up over
their heads to pass through. some say they hung in bars,
on desk tables, and she doesn’t know
if her mother was one of them.

Brittany Leitner

—Winner of 3rd Place for the Palette Poetry Prize, selected by Shane McCrae—

Brittany Leitner is a poet and journalist living in New York City and originally from San Antonio, Texas. Her poems have won the International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review, and have been published in Cathexis Northwest Press and The Write Launch. Her writing has also appeared in Bustle, Time Out New York, and Elite Daily. Her 2018 chapbook, 23 Emotions, is available for purchase on Amazon and in New York City bookstores.