you are yellow like that dandelion

I think you’re okay with your dandelion yellow braids that measure in miles down your back and huddled over your shoulders. I tried not to let you notice me counting them so I lost track at thirty.

I think you’re okay because while your friends were judging another because her teeth are too crooked and her weave is wicked, you said:

Why do you have to be so mean?

And before you spoke, I watched your mouth. Your lips moving in and out, popping breaths, waiting for the right moment to cut them up with your question.

Weeks earlier, I was sitting across from two young girls on the 3 train and I could hear them whispering about me. Without letting them notice me notice them, I could hear bits and pieces of their judgements. My hair (kind of frizzy. weird color). My jacket (all ripped up). My face (ugly).

But you: yellow dandelion braids and large green sweater knitted past your knees…
you made an effort to question the need for meanness.

Why must we notice the stains in someone’s shirt before the vibrant color wrapped around that smudge?

Why must we focus on someone’s weight (too fat/ too thin) when we have no idea the history of their skin and bones and health and need to be or hesitance to be that way?

Why must we be so afraid of the man on the bus who screams out words when maybe this is the only time in his day when he feels listened to?

You with your yellow dandelion braids twisted into your scalp like a tapestry…
I will not judge you for pronouncing the “t” in listen, if you look beyond my crookedness and knotty, stained demeanor.

Because I also notice how eloquent you are.
And if you gave me just a moment, you might notice the same in me.