How Brown Skin Behaved In The Heat

 

There was a heat wave in England last week

it was all too much sunshine for me

Coming from Africa recently

but after a while I came out wondering what I would see

I met enough feminine flesh to make a good Muslim flee!

Or make a black man happy

Give them a break

it’s just how they were raised

It’s called cultural relativity

They were told women were evil

encouraged to rape any female they find too revealing

They were told she’ll stir up the devil in Him

So they wrapped her up and blamed her for sin

Built her a cage and a prison to safely reside

made her swallow her pride

Told her the laws can’t withstand

the frenzied lust of an unrestrained man

Men are powerless, pliant and weak

in the palm of a feminine hand

Surely the Queen shouldn’t let such brutes into her land

Because her subjects aren’t allowed to surrender

to mere notions of gender

When the sun shines they’re allowed to submit to the heat

encouraged to bare

Miles of pale limbs in shorts and no hair!

Shorts everywhere! Shorts here and there

Short shorts. Bum shorts.  Cut off shorts. Bermuda shorts. Baggy shorts

Male and female shorts.

Actually, I snort

they are male and white female shorts

When a brown woman strides past purposefully

I can see she’s not on a spree

She and her daughter dressed similarly

dressed like the winter is near

I expect innocence to find it queer

and ask ‘Mama, why are we the only ones covered here?’

‘The End is coming against the infidels dear. The Jihad is here.’

So youth and goodness is indoctrinated

mis-educated, alienated, contaminated

Truism and individualism besieged by cynicism

populism, culturism, religionism

For the free, many a crisis there’ll be

till the seed finally grows into that mighty tree

Meanwhile it seems to be

that brown skin is hiding from me

covered in Modesty

A legacy of Victorian hypocrisy

a story full of chicanery, travesty and tragedy

Brown skin hides nervously

in ignominy and suddenly my pale skin fills me with Superiority

Because it privileges me, apparently, it could be the key

It lets me display my brown skin with pride

why should I hide

when pale skin sits in the light

Trying to be superficially brown

while my brown sister tries to be superficially white

And Brown skin hides

Saying I am retiring. I am religious. I am righteous. I am right

See brown sisters hold their men tight

ever ready to fight

for the right to share in his plight

While pale bodies go on display for a warm summer day

Looking for bargains to trade

The young, the old, the not so beautiful

bodies in all attitudes

are here on parade

Even age refuses to wrap itself in a charade

while Brown skin shouts ‘I’m no longer for sale!’

My brown brother can’t look away

taught to feel yearning but not what to say

The change is complete

who is naked walking the street?

Where is the justice of peace?

Take me home

this is too much temptation for me

I haven’t learnt to be free

I rather live in the safety of my false piety

or even blame my weakness on thee

Rather than take responsibility

for my sexuality

I will hide my brown skin in a black maxi

I’m from Nigeria across the sea

conservative and free

a reactionary rebels in me

My Brown skin is still searching for yours truly

still asking itself “Who I be?”

Lesley Agams, Brighton, Summer 2013

heatwave 1

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