My body is the sanctuary of my lineage,

the safe that holds an inheritance too great

for me to apologise it away,

for me to denounce the differences in my complexion

simply because of their colour.

Identity is encoded into my body

like needlepoint spots of every hue

weaving paintings from the shades of my bruises.

The pigments of my skin

fit the whole range of the spectrum,

yet somehow, I am only ever seen

as a dusky shade darker than white.

It began when prejudice crawled into

the cardboard corners of my crayon-box

and tried to make me understand

that I was less of a human being

simply because I didn’t fit

onto the lightest, brightest section

of the colour wheel.

I’ve met the cold, grey eyes

who believe in uncoloured sterility,

but my eyes are kaleidoscopes

with stained glass irises, seeing

that somewhere in their achromatic psyche,

they confused prejudice for purification

and bleached away their humanity.

I want to spill every colour from my body,

make them realise that the canvas of my skin

isn’t dark because there is dirt embedded in it;

it is dark because it is a fusion of every colour,

because it is a prismatic collection

of everything undefinable by a single shade.

I will not decolourise the parts of me

that are too bold to be monochromatic,

too complex to be folded into a label;

my skin is painted from a thousand points of colour,

like a picture made of pixels.

Don’t ascribe a hue to me

when you haven’t seen me living in rainbows,

and don’t understand how

there is no one colour to tint

the human spirit.

My skin has been painted

with the bruises of every ancestor

who fought to claim their colour.

Now I claim my own pallet:

I draw variegations onto my bones

with the raw spectrum of my crayon box,

finger-paint marbled streaks

into the ridges of my face,

tattoo onto my heart the pride I hold

for being arcipluvian.

This poem is an expression of what it means to be ‘coloured’. From the beginning of my life, I was taught how to be a coloured child; I was spoon-fed labels to remind me that my classification as a person was dictated by the shade of my skin, and it never ceased to amaze me that people could define themselves and define others with a single hue. I believe that as human beings, we are multi-coloured. It is those who seek to separate people into sections on the colour wheel who have a lesser understanding of humanity. As people, we are complex beings who I do not believe should be constrained by labels, especially when it comes to race and other significant factors such as religion and sexual orientation.

Our bodies and our personalities are uniquely important and are an expression of our heritage. I do not believe that anyone should ever have to be ashamed of who they are, and this poem explores how individuals should not have to tie back their multi-faceted selves with the restraints of labels. Especially regarding race-related prejudice, the main message of this poem is that skin colour cannot ever account for the entire complexity of humanity and that individuals should not have to be suppressed by those who are short-sighted enough to value one skin colour over another.


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My Sky

I used to sit and fix my gaze upwards… and I would wonder who I was meant to be.

My sky was meant to be painted in the raw spectrum of the rainbow, where every color jumped in vibrant exclamations of wanting to be great. Every hue in my sky was meant to be lurid and glaring, flaming in its brilliance, thriving in the pulse of its unlovely but spectacular color.

But instead, the sky is pale and pretty, painted from a pallet of clear, fresh tints and sketched from delicate pencils. Soft shades and sweet hues blend in loveliness… but I don’t want the sky to be lovely.

My sky was meant to bleed reds and greens, blues and oranges, yellows and purples, and every single shade of gray. It was meant to catch fire from the force of its unrestrained passion and daring fervency.

But instead, the sky falls apart like the petals of a rose, perpetually dropping in silence and taping itself back together with lines from forgotten melodies.

My sky was meant to be woven from drops of heaven sliding down the horizon like fallen stars. I was meant to hold a needle and thread so I could sew the curve of the sun into a seamless circle that ends where I begin…

…but instead, the muted hush of reality has hemmed itself into the lining of the sky.

my-sky-1My sky was meant to breathe in my ardor and breathe out a freedom that I could take and pin to my spirit to make it wilder. It was meant to curve so that it could fit the splendid arches of the rainbow. It was supposed to unite the strokes of sunrise at the horizon with the arms of trees reaching upwards to stroke the dawn. In its effervescent fearlessness, my sky was supposed to meet the demands of the world with a smirk written in the stars. It was meant to pull vermilion clouds into middle-finger taunts for those who overstep their grace – unashamed and strong. Bold and beautiful, it would be transcendent of expectations and limitations.

But instead, the sky is lined with tentative slips of mist that shyly offer themselves to others, too pleasant to consider brushing away the covers of cordiality.

My sky was meant to be a dome to cover every raindrop of my inexpressible sadness. It was supposed to guard the billowing winds of my panicked terror and stand strong against the depressive iron-bleak, snow-stilled winters. Against the wild rains and slashing sleets of my ire, my sky would hold together. It was supposed to fortify the scope of my emotions like a snow-globe that captures the essence of who I was meant to be.

But instead, the sky is gentle and carries only a trace of the emotion suppressed beneath remote breezes. The sky only just hints at traces of sentiment laced in the acquiescent spread of

My sky was meant to be a liquid mirror patchwork of everything I’ve ever felt, it was meant to bind the ranges of my rainbow to the steadiness of blue. It would reflect my lights and reflect my darks, it would safeguard the malignancies of shadows lurking between my heartstrings, and it would magnify the brilliance of moonlight playing among strands of my soul. To balance my wretchedness and my cheer in the steadiness of midday, my sky was supposed to blend the sunrise and the sunset in the swirl of daylight.

But instead, the sky hides its darkness behind the demure serenity of phantom peace and still nights that are perpetually holding their breath.

My sky was meant to bind my turbulent emotions to the ghosts of my tears, to take clotheslines of the words I will never say and braid them into the tresses of willow trees.

my-sky-3But instead, the sky is complacent. It’s satisfied with the sweetness of pale pastels. The sunrises are dusted with watered-down versions of rose and peach. The sky is simple and sleepy and the sun shines placidly. The sky is wistful, a quiet reminder of everything I could have been.

My sky was meant to be beautiful, daring, a quilt of everything I’ve ever felt, a patchwork of everything I want to be.

But instead, the sky is polite and pretty, pleasant and passive… predictable. It’s suffocatingly silent, shallow in its stagnant stillness. And it’s not enough.

My sky was meant to be dauntless and striking – I was meant to be dauntless and striking.

But I am not. I was meant to be so much more than this. But I am not.

Nowadays, I sit and fix my gaze upwards… and I wonder who I am.






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