A Simple Game
At one and a half,
Fatima’s eyes are wide and wondrous.
Her cheeks are rosy on her pale skin.
And Mar Vista Park seeps into her touch,
the assessment of her movements,
as she waddles after her tennis ball.
her mother wears a hajib
that hides her hair, a long
dress that covers her legs.
But all I see
is a toddler with the world laid out in before her.
to explore. Possibilities yet
to run from our history,
never reconcile with our nation’s past.
We have never learned
of The Exclusion Act of 1882,
Chinese in America ineligible
for citizenship. No other country
except Nazi Germany and South Africa
on purely racial grounds.
We’ve forgotten Japanese internment
because every Japanese in America
was a spy,
an enemy alien,
working with Japan to
take over the United States
and spread Fascism in America.
The tennis ball sits in the sandbox.
The little girl stares at the ball,
stares at the sand. Fatima squats,
hesitates. Then reaches out,
her tiny arm too short.
She looks back at her mother,
brief concern in her eyes.
But I step in, sweat band around
my forehead, running shoes on my
I gently hand Fatima her ball,
cheeks still rosy on her pale skin, and
say in a sweet voice, “Here you go.”
With a timid expression on her face,
Fatima quickly toddles
towards her mother, throws the ball
and gives chase.
at such a simple game.
Brian Dunlap is a native Angeleño and continues to live in Los Angeles. He writes and explores the city from a native’s point of view, working to capture the city’s stories that fall through the cracks. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fresno State and a BA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, both in fiction. He has previously been published in Angel City Review. He runs the blog site losangelesliterature.wordpress.com, a resource to explore L.A.’s vast literary culture.