Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson

Who is this brown girl dreaming, my teacher wants to know.
Staring out the window so.
Head in hands and eyes – gone from here.
Where are you, Dear?

Come back to the classroom, my pretty brown girl
I fear you’re halfway around the world.
Where is that mind of yours now?

Outside the winter stabs through the air
sneaks past the classroom windowpane and there
beneath a truck
a frozen bird being sniffed by a stray cat,
I don’t yet know the word ‘disdain’

But in this moment, the world feels far away
I dream of stepping out into it one day to rest my feet
in unfamiliar sand, to touch the hand of a boy or girl
on the other side – where it’s nighttime now, or summer there.

And maybe return to this place, a different girl with
just a trace of who I used to be echoing somewhere nearby
to me and as the teacher goes on and on her words are suddenly
becoming a poem that I may sing on an orange afternoon
inside a room where people will know my name.

Last updated November 25, 2022