Calling Me Coloured
I can’t remember the first time someone called me Coloured.
Maybe it was at School, when government officials in black suits
counted us in classrooms, filling their demographic quotas.
Or it was whispered to me outside Church
when I couldn’t say Awe in that guttural open accent.
I can’t remember the first time I called myself Coloured.
Maybe it was when someone mistook me for Indian
because of my straight black hair.
No, I’m Coloured
I’d say, turning the whites of my eyes toward the sky
stressing my parents and their parents straight hair.
I knew the food.
I knew the places.
I knew the slang that populated imaginations.
But every time I’d stepped inside Coloured Grottoes
eyes would search my skin for signs that were not there.
Then, my father told me of Isabella, my great grandmother: a native American.
And I gleaned from her all that I ever could hope to know
about this dark-coffee skin and straight black hair.
Yet, this never seems enough for root seekers wanting
a story explained, a traversing of fictitious parallel lines.
Root seekers do not know that we have all met each other before
in the alcoves of gooey history
which has manufactured prismatic ghosts of memory
of which I am a single wisp of color.