Aren’t you ashamed? As if every mirror holds a portrait
of Dorian Gray, you have done so many things
that the past keeps hidden away. No one sees them
except you. Over time, the links in the chain
wither into wispy rust clouds, letting the weight
simply fall. But the fault lines around your eyes
Mistakes. If they showed up like liver spots,
we’d all look like lepers, or maybe leopards,
addicted to skin creams and foundations,
an entire species of superficiality,
or maybe that’s what we are now.
No one is immune.
I look at my life, and my stomach aches.
When I was a child, it was common
to hear the N-word, to see it pulled
like a knotted rope between two mouths,
a tug-o-war of rage and shame,
and all anyone could do
was try and hold on.
We can say the kids know no better,
but they learned it from the adults.
Hate is a behavior of repetition,
a conditioned response to pain,
a self-inflicted wound that’s kept around
simply for the pleasure of festering.
I don’t want to hate you any more,
I say, to my mirror, my portrait,
my memory, my father,
to the pimple-faced sneer
vague in my recollection,
screaming faggot in my ear.
I forgive you for being a scar.
I forgive you for turning history
into an exercise of subjugation,
an entire landscape of nothing but flags
whipping themselves into nooses
trying to strangle life out of the wind.