“Today is a different look for you.”
I anticipate the compliment.
It’s the most flamboyant blue I own.
The bravest thing I can wear
In this world of black slacks and neutral forms
Is a skirt the color of lapis
Printed with symmetrical golden crescents.
When I bought the bolt I was warned it would be risky.
It’s a difficult print to work with.
The little tailor mimicked the a-line photo,
Then added big pockets on the sides.
It’s out of my comfort zone.
“Normally I can pick you out, but today
you look like everyone else.”
I mentally stutter before responding.
I look like everyone else…
I’m dressed like a color block in a children’s picture book!
Then I remember where I am.
It takes Africa to make cerulean mundane.
My American muted purples are luxurious here,
Here, women wear rainbows.
To stand out is to blend in.
“But it’s nice that you’re trying something new.”
4.9 Keeps Dancing
I hope that little boy keeps dancing.
I hope the music does not leave his arms,
Even after they’ve grown long and wiry with hard work.
I hope that no one scolds him for dancing,
Tells him that men don’t spin.
I hope that little boy looks up again and again
And starts to beat his feet against the ground,
Throw his head down and his chest up in jubilation
Just for a moment now and then
Just enough to find pleasure.
I hope that little boy grows to be a man
Who dances in the streets every now and then.
My name is proficient, businesslike.
It has the ability to be punctual.
It requires little effort.
Yet when sighed in pleasure, or called in happiness,
My ears gloss over the familiar corners of my identity
And turn my name into a new conglomeration
Composed of unfamiliar vowels and consonants.
I cannot hear my name spoken in joy.
It sounds foreign, a strange sound of exaltation.
That surely cannot be my name.
You cannot be referring to me.
That would mean that my name has other capabilities
Beyond my standard identifiers.
Who is this person you speak of?
Decay has never smelled so sweet.
Bury my nose in the bag of “leaf soil”
And inhale deeply
Breathing in microbes, rot, and
The promise of roots writhing in happiness.
Just give me the dirt
Under my nail beds, into my pores
And wrap me in that rich smell of death offering life.
My euphoria easily bests
The pleasure I felt at buying the plant in the first place,
Though there is the secondary joy
Of realizing that I’ve made both our days
With a single purchase.