Chastened Brown

My daddy understood
the richness of color and
shunned my oldest sister’s
whitewashed birth.
Who the white child belong to?
He asked in the delivery ward
shaming himself as the source.

Shadism colored my siblings’ perception.
An ideal hierarchy with light skin the pinnacle
after the paper bag test proved me cocoa dark
and of less value.

Burned biscuit defined what I could not
erase. When they tired of sidewalk chalk
and strike ’em out

their feigned indignation
made my smile give and give
unsuccessfully, reaching eyes
where ducts emptied silently.

Turned my cheek
on juvenile acceptance
and sibling rivalry
reminding myself that
After all, I’m the real thing
and it comforted me.