/coughs violently for five thousand years/
this poem makes me uncomfortable.
Vitiligo: A TimeHop Poem
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.