life & times




 

by the time i was 15 & moved to philly
my grandfather wasn't the first
to point out, nor to laugh at
the dark brown ring i left around the tub
the first time at his house i ever took a bath not a shower
misinterpreting coincidental dermal lightening caused by
moving from humid southern climate to
the northeast in the middle of wintertime
i remember him exclaiming, loud as social suicide:
"damn gurl! you didn't bathe down in the country at your momma's, huh?
you wasn't that black, you just needed to scrub the dirt off off yo' back
now go wash out that nasty tub!"
cells die perpetually and are reborn
dead skin flakes off human beings constantly
disengages in water, collects on tile or porcelain surfaces
my high-yella cousin left peach-tinted rings
against baby blue basin, my grandfather 
believed they were halos
but chocolate turns to shit when seen
through colored people glasses
it was not the first time my grandfather
compared complexion to filth
it would not be the last time someone called me
dirty, just because i showed up looking like myself
my soul slowly spiralling down the drain
with the rest of the sweat of the day

i could lie motionless in a sterile white room
butt naked on a plastic sheet all day
take a bath, and would still leave
dark brown residue 
you can call it skid marks or 
you could call it cocoa powder or chocolate sauce, left in the bowl
from a bout with a sweet dessert
cultural self-hatred has liquified me into a muddied puddle
reflecting the worst fears of the people most like me
nappy hair
loud laugh
afrocentric features
skin brown, almost black like
dirt or soil, like
shit or fertilizer, like
the street or a road to destiny
like a void waiting to be filled
i am the person who fills this void

i learned at a deepak chopra seminar a few years back that
we are always exhaling microscopic bits
of ourselves and inhaling each other
every breath is a sip of us
i hope my grandfather took in enough of me before he died
to start to love my self as much as i do
somebody in the 70's, when i was a little girl told me 
black is beautiful
i've spread that message ever since like
poppy seeds or pepper
or infinite love or
hot fudge melting into a tasty treat
dark mocha droplets on a pale porcelain plate
like the evidence left behind after
a little black girl rehydrates her body and mind 
wraps big brown rings like hugs around this world
it wouldn't be the first time

 

Beautiful