We Would Wake Up Pink
10-14-20 // Poetry - New Orleans
Note: If reading on mobile, turn horizontally. Artwork by Lisa Iacono
—After The Future of Whiteness by Linda Martín Alcoff
We would wake up pink Pinker than she remembered
A one-woman sunset would rise With a silent smile from her bed
To let the salmon filet beside her Peaceful and still dreaming
Rest a little longer in parchment Her face still asleep in the mirror, and
She would marvel at herself. Her teeth would surprise her
Bare and restless She had forgotten their sharpness.
We would wake up pink So pink we must have always been
This color. Do you know That kind of puzzled certainty
When suddenly you know That you have never noticed
What has always been A flush so deep it couldn’t have
Ripened overnight Come from the grey invisible
Or was it closer to beige It had always been clear
Like marbled animal fat Impossibly rich and everywhere.
Others would wake up tan like My freckled dad who fed us
Dried fruit with lunch Browned by the same sun
Having worked and played Even in our second, third homes
He would tell us about modesty Having grown up on a farm
He knew the value of hard work I thought he came from the earth
Brilliant irreproachable wild Like clovers on our lawns.
No one would say who are we now What have we become
Some would gather their belongings Phones keys and wallets
To make their way to work and school Free of that lingering itch of
Having forgotten something That feeling which means
Something is truly gone That we had paved over olds ruins
Until we were unsure Of where and what still hurts.
We would wake up pink Pinker than we remembered
We would think we were soft as Matching hand towels
As milk and sandwich bread Laid on the countertop
We would forget why it was We had labored with bleach
For what felt like generations But somehow will never feel clean
We would wake up pink Finally free and wondering about
Where had these tender holes These empty sockets
Come from. Had They had been there all along. Had
We willed ourselves to forget Some old untreated pain
The parts of our bodies that gape Cried out for something new or just
For the old invisible Anything but this.