The night was melting over the stretch of time, coated in rain. Not a harsh night that may come to mind. It was a mild, promising darkness that blanketed the town. As if the storm stepped aside, making room for the wandering souls.
I awake from my nap, from my skin being tenderly embraced by the hurricane five feet upward. Their new ceiling fan. No noise roused me from my slumbers, in fact, it is unbearably quiet, but it is midday, and my body is ready to resume its duties. My wet hair hangs sticky to my neck, catching itself on my earrings again and again as I rise from the bed, and move blankly to face the white openness that consumes the hallway. I stand beside her, my Teta, and we talk sparingly, taking in the surroundings, and in my case, pulling myself from that nap.
The music surfaces from the stairs behind me. Tenor strings accompanied by the looming brassiness of the french horn. It tugs at my ears and scans the glossed etchings of the table. My eyes settle on the weathered blue of the file holder. Something so detached from my surroundings; I am drawn in. Stuffed to the brim with couscous, and recipes so well known you have to scoff at the monotony of reading it over again. With stains, cluttered with lines a seven-year-old hand struck upon the paper. Always an endeavor to sift through the piles of ripped-from-magazine-we-have-to-try-this, and more often than not, I find myself stuck feeling the color on the paper. Breathing in the familiar lilt of the letters, written with a shaky hand so dear to me. Or settling in on the strike of the foreign ink against a yellowing scrap. Squinting to see people I’ve never seen, recipes I haven’t heard of. People I’ve forgotten.
I dug through my drawers in search of sunshine. Leaves lost in my hair, and chlorine clinging to my shoulders and clothes. Stubborn, despite a run through the wash. I crave this realness and motion to life. When I could feel the rush of heat and day move Past me, if I didn’t let it pull me along.
These days, the air is still; settling sickly in my lungs. It has nothing left to give, wrapping me so tight in its insipidness it is unbearable. So when I dug through the drawer and saw worn laughter, Year-old sunburns and friendship bracelets tied and unthreaded too many times to count I let it echo in my ears, wear itself on my back and tie itself to my wrists in dreamy efforts. How can I continue to be drawn out day by day, consumed by all things tangible in this fever of sun?
You said You are not white like me, And I could tell that you meant no harm. It's within me that I hurt. Because I should never have felt ashamed of this, but I did.
You said Do you have brown pride? And my immediate response was Why wouldn't I be proud of where I'm from? But what I truly meant was, How could I?
I hear it everywhere, On the news when the Middle East is being demonized yet again, Where all that is broadcast is images of "barbaric" people. Never once do I see the people who are hurting. I know they are for I feel their hurt with them. No amount of ignorance or lack of press will ever dull this ache.
I see it everywhere, When having olive skin is in an invite to be stared at, at carnivals, letting my anger wear itself on my sleeve. When I return to school after April break and get the comment, You got dark.
I didn’t mean to do it. I wasn’t planning on lying that day, but that pesky cat ruined it all for me. I was helping an old woman clean out her basement. Sure, I was getting paid, but I still enjoyed working for her. It gave me some purpose. On this particular day, I was helping her move her couch and tear up some carpeting, and after about 45 minutes of cutting along the perimeter of the room, and tugging up the hideous shag carpet, I was tired and in need of a rest. I slumped down on her pulpy couch, easing the tired muscles in my back. I hadn’t bothered to take off my shoes, as I figured nothing would come of it—my mistake. To make a long story short, I accidentally tore a hole in the weak fabric with the heel of my shoe. I remember being shocked as I looked down to see the yellowed padding of the couch peaking through. I didn’t think my shoes were that rugged.
I absolutely detest the idea of prom king and queen. As a high school student, I can say that, unfortunately, popularity and self-consciousness still eat away at people just like in middle school. So who’s bright idea was it to pit clearly vulnerable people against each other to their own destruction? Prom, short for promenade, originated in the 19th century, from banquets of which each university’s graduating class would celebrate. As harmless as this sounds, the 1894 Smith College gathering to “dine and dance” has somehow grown into something vile, with the ability to wreak havoc on the joy of prom. On a night where teens should be celebrating their high school experience and having a good time, instead the result of a popular vote and conventional beauty is applauded-and crowned-on stage.
I was always a writer, but I didn’t always write. I have forever craved to do so, but not the way I do now, with an eagerness for others to hear my words That I preach endlessly. To my family, cracking open the computer to recite my poem over dinner even though I know no electronics at the dinner table. This may, even to me reading this back, sound childish. To live with such a need to be heard. But finally to allow myself to be heard is miraculous, because
I didn’t always write. It took this year’s English class and the past three years of sitting with myself for the desire to grow. I have a writers mind, always observing, Analyzing to a fault peoples emotions that encapture me, or circumstances that I wish so severely to change. Instead, I get to my mind and let its contents flood before me.
Sometimes it’s just for me. For my joy-or grief, to carry my words and have something to show for When I say