It was so much darker than hers.
It wrapped its creeping, seeping arms around my limbs, around my body.
It poured into me, like malt liquor.
Unlike soft, unlike white cream, like hers.
It crept into me and formed my tongue, my unruly wild hair.
My wide nostrils and thick skin.
It formed the tissues in my brain which caused me to think this way.
It was a way of thinking

At night I rubbed it out.
As a child, I questioned my color, I quested for color.
I allowed the water to wash it all away.
But as soon as my bathroom lights flickered off
The truth flickered on, it triumphed.
It was stronger than any white soap.
And more persistent than any bathing I give myself.
It reached inside my heart and shook my core.
It rattled inside, tensed and said to me,
“You are not enough.”
Your skin, like burnt summer toast, like overly brewed coffee beans.

It said,
“You are the black sea.”

“You will haunt, and unlike hers, each night you will burn like embers
As you rub your parent’s seed away.”

She was sunlight. You were the shadow.
And you knew this. The world taught you this.
I was an emptiness to her rays.

This ache, like a snake, strangled and wrapped itself around you,
I begged and pleaded
I wanted to love myself.

Crawl from off of me serpent.
I was not written to be Eve.

Irmina Benson can be reached at

  • DavidL

    malt liquor?