Inked Labels


I must have bought a faulty mirror
Because I can’t see what others see
I look and see my simple reflection
They see words surrounding me

Lines and letters written in ink
A tattoo I didn’t ask for
They must have done it in my sleep
Waging a silent war

It runs across the skin of my back
Traversing down my spine
It seeps deep into my bones
It’s written on my mind

Why when others ask me
Who are you and why?
They listen less to what I say
Than what they want to see

“Emotion” suffocates my heart
Trying to beat against ink layers
“Catholic” crosses both my wrists
Tying my hands from prayer

“Feminist” stitches shut my lips
The better to kiss and tell
“Humanities” on each fingertip
For talents they cannot sell

There has yet to be a color invented
That describes my tone of skin
They paint me white or paint me brown
Never in between

And so now I stand and wonder
At the labels so inadequate and plain
Will there ever come a day
Where my only label is my name?


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