White Out

Bob Kunzinger

 

I drive speeds to make color disappear and cops

never pull me over. Buy me drinks

and turn me loose at three am;

they never notice. Never catch me. Blow hard

into some tube—I’ve seen it,

haven’t been asked, ever. I loiter

in malls, linger too long outside

some convenience store; play music loud

along the strip, midnight, trying to hook up

with some woman

 

both of us hold up traffic. Officers

never suggest we move along, never notice

my brake lights are out-- all they see is white

and polished chrome. Old women walk ahead

home from the grocery relaxed, worry-free.

 

Clerks at night don’t eyeball me up aisles

I can pump then pay

I can try it on

I can move through the mob, wander

 

unsupervised. Understand how unimaginable to question me

when I ask for change without buying a blessed thing.

I am armed with my ancestry; I am a card carrying Caucasian. I am

unnoticeable on 95 North; this marks me as Everyman.

 

If someone asks me for the time, she asks

“that man," Not “that white man.” I have never been “othered.”    

White is a given. I am never modified.

I am hardly ever described at all.

I have always been allowed to make eye contact. I could    

always curse and complain. If I say “I know what it’s like,” I am                                                  

most likely lying. If I say “I can’t breathe,” I am given oxygen. I am white.


Bob Kunzinger's work hhas appeared in the Washington Post, Kestrel, World War Two History and more. Several of his essays have been noted by Best American Essays. He is a writer and professor of arts in Virginia.