Salve

In which I curl up in the love of strangers

I spent the past few days bathing in a pool of like minds.

(Also a lot of sweat.)

There’s an inordinate sense of comfort when everyone around you shares your values, when you can speak to a stranger without carefully excising all the bits of your self that might prove controversial.

In times like these, the warmth and friendliness of fellow humans smooth over the bruises that bloom daily in the wake of the morning news. The songs that break lips begin to burn away the helplessness coiled around hearts. Determination long dimmed stokes at the touch of new hands.

And in the real world, where strangers don’t talk to strangers, eyes dance to avoid another gaze, and another bruise marks my skin, I’ll recall that this stalwart silence does not mean that I am alone.

White enough

In which I contemplate skin

When I was little, my skin was nearly white enough for my Chinese family. 

‘If you got rid of your freckles you would be so beautiful!’ they would say, whitening cream in hand. 

When I was older, my skin seemed far too white – a failed attempt to inherit my mother’s tone, the smooth brown that delights in sunshine and burnishes with ease.

Now I opt out of the hunt for sun, at home in the bioluminescence of my father’s skin.

And yet increasingly I feel disquiet. This pale passport allows me to elude assumptions, it is an all access pass to no questions asked. 

And the world doesn’t check the blood running beneath.

My half-blood friends whose dice rolled brown are forever asked where they’re from, forever questioned why they’re here.

I think of those times when they wrenched away children who were ‘white enough’. Those times when you might be less of a dog if your luck ran pale. Those times that seem to be circling back around.

And I hear the ‘Go Home’ howls, see the snarling fever as it spreads.

One day I might be lucky that I’m nearly white enough.

And for the first time, I fear that my family are not.