You ask me why I’ve decided
to buy African Fabric,
that’s printed in China,
when I’m the lightest
Black person you’ve ever seen.
You know I’m often mistaken for Hispanic,
or Native American,
or Arabic.
If I tell you I’m searching
for “Beyond the ashes,”
will you understand?
When you see that I make a European gown
out of this lush fabric,
will you be offended?
Like others before you,
will you wonder aloud
why I strive to stand out,
why I won’t tone it down?
(Which really, is why won’t I fit
I’m finally old enough,
ready enough,
to belong, instead of fit in.
I’m remodeling the “either, or” boxes
on the forms, repurposing
those timbers to build
bridges to myself.
My whole self.
Where I belong.
Where it is okay to wrestle
with the complexity
of my human story,
and if I ever take sides
I drop my chains
and choose love.