He approached me in the middle of the courtyard – an ocean
of fair skin and straight hair – in shorts red
as his arms, legs and neck, with the focal point a blue ‘X’
with evenly placed white stars and said you’re pretty
for a black girl.
I imagine he meant my lips weren’t nearly as “baboon-like”
and my hair more kempt than the other monkeys he’s seen.
Or perhaps my skin is light enough
less “tar-like” to satisfy his Aryan standards.
Ignoring the unnerved pang of my subconscious
and the unraveling of my esteem, I gave a quick flash of my jigaboo smile
paired with a simple thank you,
hoping false gratitude was enough to satisfy,
wincing as my thanks sang the revised tune of Ol’ Zip Coon
(O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day).
He walked away proud of his charity, and I remained
charcoal impersonating clean chalk,
my hand trying desperately to tear the pigment off itself.