Angels Made of Charcoal Outlines

At the age of 9 she learned quickly to hate herself.
When kids on the blacktop made jokes likes,
“When God looks at you, He says ‘Oops, I burnt this one'”.
Children spoke and jeered
in the language of tear gas
and she learned
being able to camouflage with the blacktop
doesn’t necessarily make you invisible.

So some nights she asks her mother
when she will stop being the asphalt people tread tires over.
When will she find a place in the rainbow,
because the blacktop kids said she isn’t a color,
she is what devours rainbows when the sun turns away.
That her body consumes flames and light
until there is nothing left but ruin.
Will my hair ever become long & silk?
Will I have to use perm the rest of my life to be beautiful?

She begins to believe when God made people like her
He left them a jar of processor and said,
“My bad, I hope you can fix that”.

At night she takes bleach and ammonia,
she takes steel cotton.
Scrubs and scrapes
scrubs and scrapes,
trying to undo 6 coded genes that made her this way.
Trying to undo the jazz music and Harlem shake from skin.
Trying so desperately to remove the melody from her melanin.
Her mother finds her,
floating heaps of flesh,
an island breaking under the weight of the ocean.
She’s all obtuse and fragment shades,
all camouflage paint that could never blend in right,

when her mother takes her to 10 different stores trying to find foundation,
the store clerk told her,
“We don’t make that product in your color”.

At the age of 10, she raises her hand to approach the front of the class.
The kids taking in her mismatched skin she speaks,
“I know what angels look like.
They look like every color humans are incapable of conceiving.
They can’t fit into a bottle of foundation
and people will do all they can
to clip the wings off them mid-flight,
to peel back the flesh from their bones
until the ‘extra’ from their ‘ordinary’ is used for treading tires.
These are absolute truths I carry in the life-lines of my hands:
my straight hair does not mean I want to be like anyone short of myself.
You may douse me in bleach.
Scrub and scrape.
Scrub and scrape the night from my skin.
I will still be, come sunrise,
the reason why the stars have a home.
I will still be music and melody spun into rich shades of color.
I will be considered the same:
“The absence of everything holy,
the presence of everything infinite and breathless.”