This skin is a cage.
Bars fashioned from steel,
Plaited in melanin.
I cannot escape it, but oh how I have tried.
I have scrubbed at it until it was raw,
Peeling my skin back layer by layer,
Until I found one white enough to have meaning in this world.
This skin has learned self-hatred.
Once destined to bask in the sun.
Now afraid of it,
Afraid of burning, darkening,
Until it blends into the night,
Vanishing like it was never meant for existence,
Never meant to experience the light.
This skin is asphyxiation.
Blue lips and dry throats choking on expectations,
Choking on the bones of my brothers and sisters.
This skin is black like the ink used to sign their execution warrants,
Black like the earth of the graves they have found themselves buried in.
This skin is a target,
A red and white bullseye still dripping with blood.
I am ashamed because I have lost count of the bodies ridden with bullet holes,
Fallen soldiers in a war we never signed up to fight.
This skin is a scarlet letter.
It cannot be hidden.
I could cover up,
But I have learned that even a hoodie carries a death sentence.
Jesus and I have something in common:
I will die like him,
My hands outstretched,
Nailed to this cross I was forced to bear,
Crucified for sins I did not commit.
Please, Father, forgive them,
For they know not what they do.
Edited by Ben Marcher