Driven to our inner city school in a long black

Cadillac from the land of larger homes,

ringlets of red Celtic hair close to her scalp,

she seemed outside her natural habitat dressed

in a uniform, enormous earrings dangling

round and silver from a fashion trend

years ahead of the other girls, and a grin

she wore that said, “I know something

you don’t know”

She moved among us shouldering a colorful

canvas bag with more books than our curriculum,

all A’s except C minuses next to religion class

on her report cards, slept during chapel,

brought her lunch in small plastic containers

of walnuts, sunflower seeds and honey,

an apple, orange, pear or plum in season,

dined alone on clear spring and bright fall days

reading a New Yorker or a Vogue sprawled

in the shade of a maple outside the gym

After the last bell she hurried to the same dark car,

never accepted an invitation to homecoming

or tried out for a role in a school play, left

nothing more than a photo and her name

in the yearbook, nothing about her life,

honors or future plans, nothing until spotted

on the evening news leading a lesbian march

in Berkeley with that same defiant grin,

a sign in one hand, other arm around

the waist of a laughing young woman

She did know something we did not know,

and some never would, or until much later:

the thrill of reveling in the pure and honest self