Candace Williams

 

Candace Williams is Head of Community Operations at a podcasting startup. Her poetry is forthcoming in No, Dear. She is the winner of the Clinton Foundation + SELF Women’s Health Codeathon and was featured in SELF Magazine. In a past life, she was a K-5 science, robotics, and comic book writing teacher in the South Bronx. She has a MA in Elementary Education from Stanford University and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from Claremont McKenna College. She’s taken workshops at Cave Canem and Brooklyn Poets. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with a pit bull named Madonna.

 

State Test

 

I oversee rows of delicate, diasporic hands working to prove
their worth — bubbling names on scantron forms so the state knows them

without knowing them, answering questions about the texture
of kitten fur, and handling objects most adults can’t name — they drop

spheres into graduated cylinders and note the rise in meniscus or depth of water splashed—
this displacement is volume; I walk between rows of brown bodies uniformed

in neon shirts — this displacement is volume; last month, my principal replaced
our class pets with blue book exams— this displacement is volume too;

soon, trucks loaded with stacks of chicken scratch will traverse the FDR, screeching
toward a highrise where white women wait for the unwanted cargo; they hang

coats on wire hangers and refuse styrofoam cups of coffee — they hate my kids
because they miss their own, waking before the sun to sum a 4th grader’s

knowledge of volume, mass, and density — density is mass over volume, also called
compactness; my students labor in a 8 x 4 rectangle — you can hear the frequent hiss of sorrys

when elbows knock — this is mass over volume; a kid knocks over her graduated cylinder —
the water and the sphere drop to the floor and I wonder what we are in this moment: our

bodies must be overflow…or are they sinking spheres forgotten in the deluge…or am I a
cylinder sent to contain too much of what is not myself?

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