i treat white words and black smiles as one
when the moon looks like a lamp,
a river of despondent virtues
&potential sins,

i look like a mirror, an image of an image,
drinking from the same chalice
as a millennium of systemic subversion, my stigma
is attached to my body, and
i carry it around like a baby
in a cradle, like a queer impulse
of my hope, like open eyes that
do not shut in the dark, like my skin’s
craving and engravings on my skin.

i do not mix
(as reductive as it is)
with pity,
i do not change my face
as i once did, i pickle my smiles
and feed them to your glances,

i am an expression, not either, nor both,
but all at once, the first one twice, the second
in intervals of time (joined to my hip),

i am a hole to take you in, to engulf
and succumb to this impulse
to see death, in its non-binary
view — this itch to know,

and to know well,
that i am the one, who
i am, who i see,

without a mirror, without the sky,
not transparent, nor opaque,

but still visible in the shadow
of my own light.

© Anmol Arora

Image Source (Hand Mirror by Gwendolyn Zabicki)

For my prompt at dVerse Poetics this evening, where we are celebrating some amazing Black poets, as part of the Black History Month. I’ve tried to emulate Audre Lorde’s style in A Woman Speaks and used one of her lines (in italics) — “I do not mix/love with pity.”