a poem written on my iphone, with screenshots.

/coughs violently for five thousand years/
this poem makes me uncomfortable.

Vitiligo: A TimeHop Poem

legs

Thirty years ago, the first internet domain was registered

(symbolics.com) and five years ago today, I posted on Facebook,

“All these bruises on my legs make me look like a brown-

spotted Dalmation.” Now I want to know 1) Why symbolics?

Surely not because symbolic was taken? and 2) Why were there

brown-spotted bruises on my legs? Did someone hit me?

Did I hit myself, repeatedly, clumsily, knocking myself

on furniture or counters-edge? I suppose, thirdly, I am curious

as to the dubious spelling of Dalmatian, but that’s a concern for another time.

 

Five years ago, I was more interested in the image of that Dalmatian

than the specifics of the beating, so now the world may never know.

Perhaps it is symbolic, or plurals of symbolic, my white skin

spotted brown. After all, I am a light-skinned Indian.

I wonder if this brown spotting is a kind of reverse vitiligo. If so,

I’d like to speed the process. I would knock myself silly against

every available surface to acquire that darker shade, as if spotty

pigmentation could prove what I knew all along about myself:

that mixed identity hounds me.

 

I’m not sure who clocked me five years ago, but I do know

that Spring I dyed my hair red and fell in love with a BMX

racer. I liked Twilight and had an eating disorder. Maybe my

eating disorder made my skin bruise brown as the pale

inner-flesh of an apple. Apple is a common metaphor

for an Indian too inundated in white culture. I want there

to be a fruit that’s white on the outside and red on the

inside for me to model myself after. In any case, it’s

all symbolics. It’s all nonsense, nonsense, anyway.

 

One year ago I broke into an underground speakeasy,

turning a vault that said, “Do Not Enter,” and finding a nightclub within.

That is not symbolic. That is Long Beach. I kissed a friend with

long brown hair and my legs were short and pale and curved, and

there were no bruises. No one had beaten me lately, no one to write about

in cryptic Facebook statuses that only alluded to the important part of the story.

 

Lately, I get tattoos that cover my light skin in inches.

Perhaps this, too, is vitiligo. I am darker for the dark ink beneath

my skin, the orange paint of my nails, the red dye in my hair.

Whiteness has always meant purity in the rhetoric of our day.

But blood-purity, that age-old, racist concept…well.

 

Today, I am making wolf beadwork with sweetly curved lines

and hard edges. The wolf is not symbolic. The wolf is crouched

and pouncing. The red and white totemic designs are not vitiligo.

They are part of him, and he is beautiful.

images

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