Crayons of the Flesh

©2001 Maria Jacketti
Children of the sixties,
resurrect your deluxe Crayolas.
The sacred box of sixty-four has expanded
like the quantum universe,
but one color is missing, extinct, in fact—
remember the crayon named Flesh

a beige so Caucasian, it shamelessly cried,
“Crown me Miss America.”
No kin of tan, copper, mahogany,
or a thousand other earth goddess browns—
A color to die for, 
eugenically correct, pilgrim-engineered,
a color to kill for,
that Barbie-babe-beautiful flesh,
impossible café au lait

of Ivory Soap suburbs
where war could never happen,
a color I could never have either,
no matter how hard I wished for it.
What then is a child who cannot find
the color of her skin? Invisible.
Uncolored. A prism without light.
But at last the Olive crayon
whispered to me the secrets of my flesh,
my foreignness,
oil of green mixed with gold,
the deep Mediterranean,
so much closer to Africa.


©2001 Maria Jacketti
when I had nowhere
that was when I knew
that we had something less
after all
the test is trite
try desperation
I would have slept on your floor
except you didn’t have one
funny how the house stayed
I guess we were always on quicksand

On My Father’s Birthday

©2001 Maria Jacketti
Which golden age is this,
Dear Father?
I cannot remember your exact age,
nor mine for that matter.
Epochs over the mountain, crucified
on the rocks, rocking me,
your only baby, telling me
to endure like a diamond
and become a good doctor.
You are passing, passing,
like ether through my bones
and blood,
each year, a sequoia-ring,
an orbit out from the screams
of a life sacrificed for God-knows-what.
Some would say your baby
has become old wine,
but now with the ascension 
of your ghost,
nearer than my own breath,
I am born 
to discover the words
we never had the language to speak.
[click to view introduction]