Poetry Pause: Chantal Gibson — homographs

Poet name: Chantal Gibson Poem title: Homographs Poem: 1: a race with skin pigmentation differ-ent from the white race (esp. Blacks); You preferred coloured back then, stung less than negro. Mulatto is dated. I’m mixed race, now. 2: complexion tint, a characteristic of good health; No one noticed the colour in your cheeks. The Christmas dinner one-liner, “Must’ve been dirty, it even made you blush!” At least, you taught me how to take a joke. 3: of interest, variety and intensity; Remember Cabbagetown? Our coloured beginnings, the dress shop lady, the front door, my broken pointy finger, you in your secretary dress chasing her in the street. Girl, where you learn to fight like that? 4: to give a deceptive explanation or excuse for; The lawyer argued you were coloured by your emo- tions. Quite naturally, of course. What other reason would you have to beat a white bitch down? 5: to modify or bias; My world, coloured. Never has a child felt more loved, more protected, more ashamed. 6: an outward or token appearance or form that is deliberately misleading; You coloured your apology with the single mother story of my one good eye. The white lady dropped the charges. 7: of character, nature; You said, wait long enough, you’ll see their true colours. I never told you she smiled at me as she turned away, or that I stuck my finger in the hinge just to see what would happen. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Chantal Gibson from How She Read (Caitlin Press, 2019) Chantal Gibson is a poet-artist-educator from Vancouver working in the overlap between literary and visual art. From academic history books to kitschy souvenir spoons, her work unpacks imperialist ideas quietly embedded in everyday things. Confronting colonialism head-on, her literary and visual works exploit the myths, tropes and narratives that go unchecked across the Canadian cultural landscape. While forging new spaces for voices silenced by historical erasure, Gibson challenges and celebrates representations of Black womanhood. Named one of CBC’s 6 Black writers to watch in 2019, Gibson is an award-winning teacher in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University.