Back to Issue Nineteen.

skin deep



Pardon the black water
in the sink, restless &
tyrannical in its wading.
The plate’s shellacked
face folds into my own,
reflects another face I
have inherited these past
few years. The faucet
runs endlessly, so fluid
with brisk pace, it seems
to almost be entering the
mouth of which it exits.
I look into the water, now
blackened from a series
of elements like foam &
foreign liquid making its
home in this metal bowl,
factory of carved ceramics
& glass forms. I heard the
spoon bends when we can
deny its existence but of
course you can’t deny this:
race, so permanent upon
ourselves, it becomes our
own tombstone with names.
I once tried to drown my
skin & be human without it.
Jump in, said the knife &
I did, through the soap, slick
debris of white foam, glazing
this fine black creek. I dived
skin first, then the body,
wading, wading, waiting
for something to clean me.

Nkosi Nkululeko, a Callaloo Fellow, is multi-nominated for Best of the Net, as well as nominated for the Independent Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prizes. He was a featured speaker for TEDxNewYork and was a finalist for the 2016 Winter Tangerine Awards for Poetry. His work can be found in [PANK] Magazine, VINYL, No Token, and other publications. He lives in Harlem, New York.

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