(from the manuscript “In My Grasp”)
He’d asked why I wore cornrows to school.
So I began to wish that the Crème of Nature bottle
would transform my Afro into a flawless, vibrant canopy.
Long hair would make me pretty, I was sure of it
the chemicals weren’t good enough.
And when a short, skinny, light-skinned local train would
his eyes would follow her into ether,
and I thought that mine weren’t light enough.
He turned me off
going to school with a drawstring bag that cradled only
an unsharpened pencil.
He forgot things that took so much courage
for me to tell,
and he had the ability to make me question myself
when he barely had the ability to read.
But he turned me on
when I hugged him, I touched cloud 546,999
feeling like I’d digested butterflies
and I was glad that there was something in me
somebody else liked.
My affection has withered away and died
like the smoke rings between his parched lips.
On tomorrow’s tomorrow I will wake up for school
tired and groggy with stress.
There will be rows and rows of braids in my hair,
and I will deflate under the weight of my book bag
ripping at the stitches because of my books.
I’ll embrace the sun as my skin gets darker
I won’t hold onto my Colorblends as tightly
and I will let my hopes of being stereotypically attractive fade.
Because I’m finally over him.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.