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Naomi Simone Borwein


Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/rA3ofDB9sQE) 15.10.2023.



Under the Covenant


Michael, why are you the only Black student in the class, it was the special needs girl who asked.


Say you’re sorry Kendra, her teacher reproached. That’s not okay, you can’t ask that, and it puzzled Kendra. But we aren’t friends, and she refused.


She’s autistic, they made excuses. That was the end of it for her.


After the bell, on the playground, n***** was scrawled in yellow chalk on the brick wall of the school building.


The schoolyard lore had been slowly twisting away from “no more teachers dirty looks” towards something even more disturbing.


They ran anti-bullying workshops and talked about anti-racist approaches. Fighting Islamophobia. But terrible things were coming out of the children’s mouths…


whispered in the halls, under their breathes, in the back of the classroom. Tittering at their transgressive exchange of words.


And the community, once under restrictive covenant laws that banned Blacks and Jews from owning property into the 1970s…

Outwardly no one was different.

There were no menorahs in the windows during the holidays anymore,

swastikas popped up spray painted on billboards.

Someone hung a noose in the forest,


and that angry look of hate and intolerance

was surfacing in peoples’ eyes.



About the Author: Naomi Simone Borwein is a writer and an academic. Her work appears or is forthcoming across a spectrum of publications: Space & Time Magazine, HWA Poetry Showcase IX (featured poet), Ghostlight The Magazine of Terror, Beautiful Tragedies III, Farside Review, Ghost City Review, Superpresent Magazine, Soliloquies Anthology, Grim & Gilded, dancing girl press (chapbook), and elsewhere. Naomi is a past head poetry editor of Swamp Writing (2018-2022)--and now a reader for Thanatos Review and Space & Time Magazine. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

 

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