Three Parts (Black)
after Lauren Bullock
My father is one half Chippewa, which means his mother was Black and his father was invisible. You can see it in the way he begins to fade from view when the dusk settles in on the boy raised hills. First the nose vanishes, then the ears and most of his torso until only the night can identify his hands. But when the sun is up, his skin is a slow cackle of flame. Snap your fingers hard enough and the cheeks of my father will appear. Black boy sunspot. Loves the dirt. Fears being lowered into it. Hated his father. Called him iridescent. Called him mean little Indian. Black boy married a woman twice as dark as him.
Bird-chest son calls himself ¼ Native. Son brag about having Indian in his blood. Puffs out his chest like he done survived somethin’. Son can’t name a tribe. Son still thinks Bugs Bunny is funny. Son is 10 years old and rises with the god-rays. Son is still ¼ on first day of class. Still don’t know what genocide means. Ain’t nobody explain erasure. Still don’t know what his grandfather’s real name was. Son stole once and felt bad. Son had something taken from him and watched the teacher not care. Son is ¼ Native. Son gets called a nigger on the playground and forgets fractions. Son is ¼ I don’t remember. Son learns to walk on his phantom limbs. Son is so Black now. Son so Black the sun shrugs. Son so Black his father can’t forget him.
The not yet naked girl stares at my naked hue and asks which one of my parents is Native American. She says she can tell by how my red skin pushes through the shadows of the room but I always thought the red came from anger. From the blood I could never get out of my skin. From the rage. Or fire I haven’t figured out how to control yet. Continue reading