Little Pieces of Color
Made with scissors and glue or… nothing.
On this black public bench, I rest from not doing my afternoon run.
Exhausted but not tired;
Sore from the wounds inside.
Hydrated and breathless,
Overwhelmed — That's a word.
Out of habit, I hold the camera to my face.
I try a smile.
It doesn’t look good on me.
My skin has exchanged complexions with the sun,
Yet my fingers make little haste to capture the moment.
So, as is my wont, I stop time.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
This will primarily make one think of the speaker and their big mouth.
But what about the giftee?
What has the sender spewed from hearty abundance?
Hatred, frustration, love, truth?
Whenever you are unfortunate enough to be sitting on the receiving end,
You will realize that not one of the above accorded in abundance is pleasant.
Eleven years and seven months ago,
I was asked to draw the map of my country in my exercise book.
Instead, I cut out the map from my atlas and stuck it on the page.
Gracefully, it replaced the drawing that never was.
Looking up and around, I realize I am that map;
Away, lost, lonely, surrounded.
I begin to wonder where my world had gone.
Had respect been a dream?
Comfort, a myth?
Good conduct, a ghost?
Sincerity, a luxury?
Happiness, a wish?
Family, a thing of the past?
Had all these ever existed or had they been
Only a part of my generous imagination?
I look again at the screen and I see;
My face is brown,
My eyes, white
My hair, black
My palms, red
My nails, blue
My lips, pink.
I am a colorful stencil, pasted in a plain world.
When I had re-opened the pages of my elementary exercise book,
The cut-out of my country's map had flown out;
Old, exhausted, and ripped by age,
But no less — no less colorful.
Eleven years later, it was finally free, and still
It had not exchanged its printed elegance for the colorlessness of my white-ish book pages.
So I wipe the lens of my camera and try the smile from another angle.
That first time, I hadn't seen clearly;
For resentment had been sitting at my eyelids, tainting my vision.
I disconnect my finger from my mind,
And my mind from my heart.
Like the map, I am not about to give in to the bland world around me.
I am a bold stencil
And the minute the pages open,
No matter how long it takes,
I will fly out.
Because I am an outcast;
A square peg,
A round piece.
I do not conform.
I do not fit.
I am only a cut-out.
And my colors are oh-too-permanent.
… so I lean back and let the camera freeze me for time.
Other Stories by Bisi Amanwi