Between Us

By | 1 February 2021

She looks
across the table at me
and sees what she can see:
woman approaching middle years;
small lines slow-revealing
to the surface,
grey often slipping its disguise,
loose gestational flesh and swells
and swelling;
once firm and slender
of limb.

She notices
thick hair: curls, waves,
kinks, fly-away, frizz.
And tough hands with grooved skin
and raised veins, sunspots,
minor occupational burns.
She wrinkles her just-right nose
where cells produce just-right quantities
of melanin, and sighs just audibly.
Like, not like, like,
not like.

Brown skin
not ‘skin colour’ skin
of the classroom Crayola set.
Brown skin that bristles
at the phrase.
Innocently spoken, ignorantly
What you wanted.
Wasn’t this what you wanted?
An ignorance
never yours.

Outer-suburban neighbourhoods
of ‘80s homogeneity:
the forces of assimilation.
Cold, callous word
always calling to mind
annihilation of self.
Sectors of resistance
but the insidious nature of the scheme,
at the very least, transfigures dreams.

When both
real and imagined worlds
deny your truths—
seeking, seeking
but never locating
a mirror that doesn’t lie,
the victor is cultural erosion.

In subterranean consciousness
you decide on a mate
to release your progeny
from judgement.
Of course, you don’t realise this
when they’re comparing your skin tone
to faeces.
But twenty years hence, her father
stands beside you;
an outsider too, but not
at a glance.

And now
here she is,
beloved outcome
of your coupling.
Scrutinising you, unveiled eyes
for the first time
in her 7 years.
She is purity
and full-hearted
but she has found
what separates you.

You wonder
is this really what I wanted?
For her to feel, yet never
comprehend first-hand.
For these inclusivities
and exclusivities
to exist
between you and those
you’ve grown beneath your skin;
the ones you’ve suckled
from this skin.

Annihilate me now?

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