I always feel a cold chill slide down my spine
every time I step outside my apartment door
or walk through the office corridor.
I’m well dressed
shirt perfectly pressed, matching tie,shinning leather shoes
mirrors screaming just how good I look.
my eyes collide with those of my neighbors and office colleagues
their stares piercing mercilessly through my self esteem
like a sand scorpion’s sting…
I begin to feel that cold sweat that cascades through a soldiers armpit
when the commanding general ruthlessly scrutinizes his outfit.
unsure of what I have missed
maybe a crease on my sleeve or food crumbs swinging on the edges of my lips…
having done everything imaginable to fit in
something in their strange stare still makes me feel so incomplete.
I have attempted everything
worn Gucci suits, dropped the foreign accent
mastered my speech, English almost perfect
even chopped down the Afro to a mere inch.
those chronic stares linger
taunting my every dream as if questioning even the validity of my sleep.
realizing the ‘error’ they see cannot be changed
the dark veil covering my being cannot be stripped
the permanent mask shielding my blood cannot be removed at will
the blackness of the melanin liquid cannot be bleached.
to break free from this soul-chocking suffocation
python-like constriction of the complexion of my skin.
not for a change of this chocolate shade
for it is a unique ingredient in the recipe of our identity
but for a transformation of perception in the eyes and minds
of those who quickly quantify the value of a house by the
paint on its walls rather than the content of its indoors.
echoing the old Egyptian saying
on how little can be known about the Giza pyramid
by simply staring at it from the