When I was eleven years old, I met a girl named Fatou.
She was in my sixth grade class,
an immigrant from Dakar, Senegal.
Now, she may not have had the physical attributes
that society today deems as "beautiful",
but, I didn't care.
See, her skin,
was dark like the night time sky.
She had these lips,
that were big, and vast
I felt as if I were to step any closer
she'd capture me, with her words.
See her voice, drew my attention
like morning symphonies.
Her accent, so thick
I could feel every story
passed down from her mother
and her mother's mothers
with every syllable
of every word
I looked at her and I
in its purest of forms.
I remember, I would write little notes
of ideas for poems
and at times,
evoke emotion that I'd never seen.
I would begin to weep, at the stories that were caged in me
for far too long
and Fatou would look at me and timidly whisper "do you know what that is?"
and as I looked at her as curious and as attentive as a Sunday school student
she said "that's God"
and at that moment, for the first time I believed
someone was listening.
That there was an open ear
at the end of my 3am prayers.
That angels watched over me
as I sat hopeless between the corners of
I did not know that God stood alive
in the lines of my notebook,
but she helped me see.
One day as we sat together outside
waiting for our rides home
Two boys approached us.
One of them, charmingly yelled to his friend "ayo, look at fat ass over there"
When his finger pointed at my direction it might as well have been a loaded gun.
His ignorant counterpart, maliciously replied "look at the darky next to him"
"Aww, yeah yeah dawg check out her monkey lips", "ayo monkey, can you understand me?"
"Yoo man, look at her hair. she probably can't even speak English."
When did it get so complicated?"
I often thought everyone saw beauty as I did; beyond face value.
Words, words cut deeper than the most well crafted blade
leaving scars, scars that don't just wash away with
hugs and cliche compliments.
I wish I could go back to that day, and look those two in their eyes
screaming "YOU have no right to decide what is and what isn't. You are not God, nor were you appointed by him. You have no idea what this beautiful girl is about. You are but a fish that lives in the comfort of shallow waters. You would never think of trying to go any deeper. She is a lotus in full bloom, and you two, are rotting carcasses of tree trunks, dead inside...I pity you."
I wish I could go back to that day, and look her in the eyes
crying, tears flowing like waterfalls into the pools of her dimples,
I would tell her, "Beloved, try to understand, that idle minds on their free time don't think. They are everything that is wrong. You are everything that is right. Next time they tell you that your dark skin is ugly, tell them that you are more than your complexion. That it is the void that fills the stars at night. Tell them the gap in your teeth opens doors to let people see who you really are. My love, they are merely distorted reflections of the gift that is you. They are rotting carcasses of tree trunks, dead inside..and you are a lotus in full bloom. Wipe your tears, because they are the problem, and you, the solution. And always, always, always, remember when you feel like you're at your lowest, when you think no one is listening, when it's 3am and you find yourself between the corners of your room that you...are beautiful."
Guide that inspired this poem: