Skins

By | 1 February 2021

I longed for a chameleon life,
my brown rind most seemly for family gatherings,
peeled with the telling and retelling
of myths and collusions
from the old country,
for the gifting of clay pots and gold
from aunts who’d returned,
suitcases bulging with the foreign-familiar,

inscrutably sable like the mustard seeds
in my mother’s kitchen,
white for school,
for loitering underage in bars, near railways,
in packs selected by popularity,
milky as college captains
blessed with sameness and blue eyes,
as undeniably wasp-toned as Marsha Brady,

I bled for the melting pot,
watched red turn to rust,
humbly explained my origins at soirées,
wanting mostly to slip
the coat my ancestors bestowed
with its dark buttons stitched shut
and me, captive, perspiring
inside the Melbourne grey,

my cinnamon breast
in a lover’s grasp,
his fingers stretched like lily-manacles,
stark against my hide,
dragging me out of the east
into a decadent west
with all its comfort
and discomfort.

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