Charcoal covering my flesh, my bones
In my dream, I am a gorilla, I am a chimpanzee,
I am hanging upside down in the New York
City Zoo, picking off the ticks on others
and being ignored by humans, the ones
who come with food and hold the keys
to my freedom, the end of my display.
My skin is painted on black.
I want to wash it off, but the color
works like a deep rooted stain on the carpet.
Some dirt just won’t rinse off no matter
how many tricks grandma can perform
with lemon and baking soda. My whole
body is becoming like a rusted tuba on the third
floor of a creepy farmhouse. Everyone is too
afraid to come up and put their lips on me.
I want to be a really good song about freedom
but my penitentiary comes in a shallow form
of indifference and neglect like a baby left in
the bath water long enough for its skin to prune.
Nobody gives a damn about my skin. I become something
like bad memory because of it. Not in the way you forget
but in the way everything comes out in bad dreams
you try to forget upon wake. Grandma says the next
morning, kissing my forehead, handing me pancakes
You are beautiful in the moments nobody notices
like a butterfly laughing with the crickets on a drop
of salt water straight from god’s tears. I heard
the snores turn to yelling, screaming, crying
the apes are judging me and I don’t feel woman.
Give anything for my hair to grow and flow straight
Sick of being called Medusa with the snakes and stone stare.
My grand baby, howling all night, get off me snakes
I am no ape. Get those eyes off of me. I am no stone
cold killer. Can’t you see I’d give anything to be
different, to be a rainbow, to be that white woman
who flips her hair in the sun to get a key to her freedom.