There is a foreigner
on this shore.
From foreign lands, with
Knocking at my door.
There is a foreigner
4 pm sunlight carves golden frames on cream walls
a city, blue glass and white birds,
Have you seen the lions on the library ceiling? They’re pawing at the edges of ontology, where flowers bow like gentlemen with Sinatra-style fedora hats. Everyone is lithe, lither than pigeons bopping on the curb and squirrels scrambling at a crumb of bread, and yet the lions lie in stubborn stone. Nothing to do but dance.
Toward the end of a several-day hiatus from writing, I visited a bookstore for the sole purpose of perusing. I was shocked to see that “self-help” had become a section of its own, donning a few eight-foot high columns. Authors promoted anything from traditional Buddhist concepts to successful wall-street financial maneuvers to better the reader’s everyday life. I picked up and flipped through The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, whom I was already somewhat familiar with, when it dawned on me. I just need to write this piece. I don’t need to actually give a “F*ck”. Motivated by a Nike-esque “just do it” mentality, I embraced the ethos of the self-help genre.
On my sixteenth birthday, I ask my mother if I can get a tattoo like hers on my wrist. Raising an eyebrow at me, she responds back, like she’s done, a thousand times before,
It’s not a tattoo, she says.
“What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me,” wrote Walter Dean Myers in a 2014 opinion piece for the New York Times, titled Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? He explains that when living through extremely difficult points of his life (including coping with the murder of his uncle, grief, and alcohol abuse by family members),reading books became a retreat from the world. He noted that the world he saw around him was not reflected in his reading material: “As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine.”