Poem

Gradients of Brown

I
for my mother

They were not brown like us.
They were brittle and craggily—
like fallen trees—
trees without roots,
supine, rotten from neglect.

They stare. They stare.
I see the mirage of golden rooms
in their mahogany eyes.
They wither,
but I still see the sunlight in their skin.

II
for my father

The worker’s hand reaches.
Blood dark soil crumbles
from its palm.
The hand reaches for a virginal berry.
Time freezes as the stem snaps.
As he wipes away his sweat,
the broken flesh stains his forehead.
The worker’s hand reaches.

III
for my lover

Don’t be terrified
by how the chocolate bubbles in the pot—
how it purrs of dying in your sleep.
Don’t be terrified
how smoothly it pours
like skin that’s never suffered.
Don’t be terrified
that it tastes like a mouth
of nicotine that kisses well.
Ah, it kisses well.
Please don’t tremble
as I drizzle it hot upon your stomach.
It will cool Edenic,
be sweet forbidden on your lips.

IV
for myself

I am a violin—
but isn’t it odd that I lack strings?
I don’t need them to make my song.
The rosewood sings itself—
burns of Stravinsky in the candle flame—
suspends its notes like solitudes of stars—
yes, I am the wood of violins,
but without the ache of strings—
and still my brown skin sings.