From many years ago, I can hear her words, while I sit with my elbows resting on my knees. My back hunched over, bridging my memories to my emotions, as I contemplate what I am and what I used to be. I can hear her say those words, as we sat in the open air lobby of the dorm room. With a week long break in the rear view mirror on a sophomoric year, we sat on the couches and enjoyed the breeze.
She sat there, fresh from enough Spring-break Sun for her normal light brown skin tone to be covered over in the warmth of a darker hue. I said jokingly, “I got a tan too.” It was true. My skin did and still does get darker, richer, deeper from exposure to the vitamin rich rays of the Sun. She laughed and replied, “Your skin looks like the color of dirt.” The words stung the emotions of a child and still stain the memories of a man.
How I wish, I had the knowledge I hold now. I would have said. “Thank you!” I would have stretched my face into the widest grin. I would have reveled in the majesty that dirt holds. Told her how it grows life, how it holds life. How it is an essential element of life – air, earth, and water.
A wiser me would have shared with her my bold plans to one day become not only dark as dirt, but as dark as the night. How I would someday lasso a corner of the sky and lay across my chest and arms, the collected stars; Hiding in plain sight within the night, reflecting the majesty of universal wonder.
Had I understood my blessings then, I would have told her all of these things that I’ve come to understand about me now.
The bus trundled along the street, with the brown heads of bused in high school children making their way back home to the city from the ‘burbs. The sunlight shown across the brown of her face, through the windows of the bus, while she and I joked about nonsense things. Several threads later, she responded by saying, “Your nose isn’t cute and small like mine.” The words stung the emotions of a child and still stain the memories of a man.
How I wish, I had the knowledge I hold now. I would have said. “Thank you!” My nose is big, big enough to breathe in huge amounts of oxygen-rich air to fuel my powerful lungs. See how my chest heaves from the amount of oxygen my nose can capture to propel my muscled legs to outrun the gazelle and cheetah in any race around the world they choose.
I wish I had told her, my big, fat and short nose keeps the air cool, by not being too long. It keeps my brain at the perfect temperature to wonder and calculate our movement among the stars, to theorize on the tenants of rocket science and program the world of tomorrow.
Had I understood my blessings then, I would have told her all of these things that I’ve come to understand about me, now.
It is in Its Image that I was created and blessed. As the cock crows midnight I am reminded of how I still carry the shame from denying these blessings all those years ago.
by malakhai jones
(c) Copyright 2017