Lisa Martinovic

The girl with the parole officer

Mission High School
substituting for Mr. Ashburn
Social Studies, tenth grade
Expecting chaos, the sub is not disappointed
Yelling roll call above a chattering teenaged
din she cannot translate
Samoan, Tagalong, Cambodian, Farsi
Chafing at the conspicuousness of her age
and whiteness
in equal measure

Tamika Jackson stands
glides past the sub
with the poise of her ancestors
Silver scar beneath right eye
Crescent moon whispers of knife or razor
Now removing receiver from the wall phone
What are you doing?
The sub attempts to establish authority
Callin’ my P.O.
Tamika daring the sub with a glance
The sub turns to the class, seeking confirmation
PO? She asks, idiotic
"Parole officer" the class in unison
like, duh
The sub considers her options
The girl is 15 already
bigger and taller
Knife-fight on her face
Ancestors in her blood
The class on her side
The call goes through
The sub resumes her role
Liao, Macadangdang, Nuygen, Odunikan, Rockett, Shabaz, Telesmanic, Tutupu,
Ubungen, Widjaja, Zepeda


Melanie Turner 2.jpg (94793 bytes)

(photo by Melanie Turner)