The reflection in the bathwater always revealed
the chocolate hue of my skin. Water beaded
upon it like drops of dew on sycamore leaves.
The water wouldn’t take responsibility for
cleansing my imputed charge. It pretended
to care by rinsing the dirt away.

As a child, I questioned
why God didn’t leave the red bone in.
I didn’t understand the history that covered
my fledgling bones. I would rub my hands
across my body and pretend to be anyone else.

Each day, I wanted to tell a fairer story of my skin.
It was not my choice for the touch of deeper earth,
the overspill of melanin; the truth.
In seclusion, my arms were raised in surrender.
And it was a feeling that caused my retreat. A feeling
that my brown skin was not good enough, accepting
enough, or beautiful enough.

I submerged my body in the water. No sound,
just light. A baptism that opened my soul
and blessed my brown sugar.

I slowly lifted myself out of the porcelain bathtub,
weary after the journey that just took place.
My skin felt like a new born baby –

And I,
in the stillness of fogged mirrors and
pulled-down shades,


my brown skin was not a cross to bear,
but a gift.


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