The Shade of My Rebellion: a poem

poem by: Imani Joseph

image source: Youtube

Sensuality wears red lipstick
Smearing her teeth with scarlet colored paint
Teeth that don't turn up in public
My dream is to scowl in the streets
No one ever saying my smile is beautiful
Sensuality wears a red dress
That hugs her rolls
People knowing she eats her rolls
Showing off the rug burns on her knees
Scraps on the shins
Not wearing stockings
The cold wind wrapping itself around her thighs
Sensuality’s hair is not pulled into a ponytail
Or with a bump creased on to the end
But down her back
Bone straight
Letting boys run their fingers against her scalp
Not standing straight but curving her spine into a crescent moon
Moving the fat in her hips back and forth
Ass jumping with each step
Sensuality smells like her
Not a boy's sheets
Fruity perfumes or packaged flowers
Femininity being a scent and her man licking it off her chest
I want to be the girl my mother raised me not to be
And judge her
Clumsily putting red lipstick on at home
And going to town with my mouth stained pink
Sensuality is a women my aunts try to tuck into clothes
My momma calls fast
Not an unresponsive object loved
But in love with how the the snow crunches underneath work boots
The texture of dissected cotton balls
The color of a crisp wife beater
Sensuality was the girl that played with the boys
Mud staining her church dress
Wishing on ladybugs and stomping centipedes
Never losing the baby fat but it rising to her chest
Chasing the boys
One hand holding up her hair the other her breast
She counts the moon’s curves and crevices
While I hide from the nightlight scared of how it will define my figure
She does not whisper to mice but kills rats with the tip of her heels
I don't want to think in muted colors
Soul painted in demure pastels
Red is not too bold
It is bold enough
Short skirts not an invitation but a proclamation
God gave me this body so it must be holy
My soul wants, for them to be met
Sensuality says her voice not soft or small but big
Bigger than balls she doesn't have
The whiteness she can’t acquire
No more I'm sorry
Excuse me
Pleasantries to mask power
Not the wife that sits in the front yard sippin hot lemonade
Or the spoiled woman leaning against a brick wall in an alley
She is everything in between
Everything I'm not bold enough to be