• The BP Team

Welcome to the ALL-NEW Feedback Friday!

Updated: Apr 24

Welcome to the NEW Feedback Friday, featuring Brooks Permissions' TECHFACE, Darius Colquitt.

Today's Feedback Friday Piece:

The Life of Lincoln West


Ugliest little boy

that everyone ever saw.


That is what everyone said.


Even to his mother it was apparent–

when the blue-aproned nurse came into the

northeast end of the maternity ward

bearing his squeals and plump bottom

looped up in a scant receiving blanket,

bending, to pass the bundle carefully

into the waiting mother-hands—that this

was no cute little ugliness, no sly baby waywardness

that was going to inch away

as would baby fat, baby curl, and

baby spot-rash. The pendulous lip, the

branching ears, the eyes so wide and wild,

the vague unvibrant brown of the skin,

and, most disturbing, the great head.


These components of That Look bespoke

the sure fibre. The deep grain.

His father could not bear the sight of him.

His mother high-piled her pretty dyed hair and

put him among her hairpins and sweethearts,

dance slippers, torn paper roses.

He was not less than these,

he was not more.


As the little Lincoln grew,

uglily upward and out, he began

to understand that something was

wrong. His little ways of trying

to please his father, the bringing

of matches, the jumping aside at

warning sound of oh-so-large and

rushing stride, the smile that gave

and gave and gave—Unsuccessful!


Even Christmases and Easters were spoiled.

He would be sitting at the

family feasting table, really

delighting in the displays of mashed potatoes

and the rich golden

fat-crust of the ham or the festive

fowl, when he would look up and find

somebody feeling indignant about him.

What a pity what a pity. No love

for one so loving. The little Lincoln

loved Everybody. Ants. The changing

caterpillar. His much-missing mother.

His kindergarten teacher.


His kindergarten teacher—whose

concern for him was composed of one

part sympathy and two parts repulsion.

The others ran up with their little drawings.

He ran up with his.

She

tried to be as pleasant with him as

with others, but it was difficult.

For she was all pretty! all daintiness,

all tiny vanilla, with blue eyes and fluffy

sun-hair. One afternoon she

saw him in the hall looking bleak against

the wall. It was strange because the

bell had long since rung and no other

child was in sight. Pity flooded her.

She buttoned her gloves and suggested

cheerfully that she walk him home. She

started out bravely, holding him by the

hand. But she had not walked far before

she regretted it. The little monkey.

Must everyone look? And clutching her

hand like that. . . . Literally pinching

it. . . .


At seven, the little Lincoln loved

the brother and sister who

moved next door. Handsome. Well-

dressed. Charitable, often, to him. They

enjoyed him because he was

resourceful, made up

games, told stories. But when

their More Acceptable friends came they turned

their handsome backs on him. He

hated himself for his feeling

of well-being when with them despite–

Everything.


He spent much time looking at himself

in mirrors. What could be done?

But there was no

shrinking his head. There was no

binding his ears.


“Don’t touch me!” cried the little

fairy-like being in the playground.

Her name was Nerissa. The many

children were playing tag, but when

he caught her, she recoiled, jerked free

and ran. It was like all the

rainbow that ever was, going off

forever, all, all the sparklings in

the sunset west.


One day, while he was yet seven,

a thing happened. In the down-town movies

with his mother a white

man in the seat beside him whispered

loudly to a companion, and pointed at

the little Linc.


“THERE! That’s the kind I’ve been wanting

to show you! One of the best

examples of the specie. Not like

those diluted Negroes you see so much of on

the streets these days, but the

real thing.


Black, ugly, and odd. You

can see the savagery. The blunt

blankness. That is the real

Thing.”


His mother—her hair had never looked so

red around the dark brown

velvet of her face—jumped up,

shrieked “Go to—“ She did not finish.

She yanked to his feet the little

Lincoln, who was sitting there

staring in fascination at his assessor. At the author of his

new idea.


All the way home he was happy. Of course,

he had not liked the word

“ugly.”

But, after all, should he not

be used to that by now? What had

struck him, among words and meanings

he could little understand, was the phrase

“the real thing.”

He didn’t know quite why,

but he liked that.

He liked that very much.


When he was hurt, too much

stared at—

too much

left alone—he

thought about that. He told himself

“After all, I’m

the real thing.”

It comforted him.


- Gwendolyn Brooks


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