They Think They Know Dannika White

July 22, 2008
I sit curled up in the middle of the night with
tears like ammunition ravaging into the purple reservoirs under my eyes
and a bomb ticking slowly in my throat, waiting to detonate.
But why am I crying? I’m Dannika White, The Dannika White,
the one they stay up an extra hour studying for the geometry test to beat
and the one who is stupid enough to let them cheat off of.
Sometimes I wish I was Jane Eyre.
The girl who can stand punished upon a wooden stool sans cheeks flushed with shame
and wander countless miles on her own without nourishment.
But all I am is Dannika White, who has only stood on a wooden stool
because she is short and can’t reach the highest bookshelf
and has only wandered as far as the characters have in those books.

If they only knew I’m standing right behind their backs,
but that’s not why I’m crying, you know, they praise me.
She’s Dannika, like a machine, they say
but clearly I’m not made by Dell, no wonder they don’t get called machines.
The quieter they whisper to my back, the louder I want to scream in their faces;
it wells up inside me until I just want to regurgitate all my revulsion,
but all I can vomit is the answer to number five
and the bad taste just leeches on my tongue,
the dormant words tearing at my searing throat.
How’s that for a machine?

Now, I lay rocking on the ocean that is my pillow,
cracked icebergs swirling around in my head.
Through my bloodshot eyes
I see them,
the people who think they know Dannika White,
but all they really know are the conjugations of Spanish verbs.

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