What is in My Hands?

Photo by Carolina Basi

I look at myself in a mirror, leaning in to see who is staring back. Over time it becomes unbearable. I look away but everywhere I turn is another mirror, another set of eyes scrutinizing me. I am nothing without my mirrors. They collect me and I collect them. I live only to see myself reflected. To see if others see what I see. I wear my mirrors like a plea for mercy; I wear my mirrors like a shield.

My reflection brings it back, all of it like it was just the other day. It’s at the tip of my tongue especially when I am tired. One, two, three . . . let’s count it again. That slight, that hurt, that time. One, two, three . . . and repeat.

Most of the time I can cover it with a nervously grinning jester face but beneath I am mostly this. A carefully curated collection of caustic remarks, thoughtless comments, murderous judgements. I was your daughter then. I was small and listening as you insisted on slaying me. Over and over I lay dead on your battlefield.

You were at once a smotherer and an angry distant mother. But angry at whom? You called me black, you hated my skin. I would have removed it like a sacrificial garment and thrown it on your altar, set myself ablaze to sear myself apart from it, to please you. To make you love me as much as you loved your fair-skinned daughter.

This is what is finally in my hands. Everything. All of it. From my first heartbreak forward. It has no weight but takes up all the lost spaces. I wrap it up in a thousand mirrors. It will be there waiting for me. It will multiply. It will take charge, establish dominion. It will not let go until I let go.

I believe enough time has passed. It’s in my hands now. All my life remaining.

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