She steps into the shower and pulls the curtain like a cell door
Closes her brown eyes against suds
She rubs the dead leaves and Niger mud into her skin
Scrubs the thick into her thighs
Carves the wide into her waist
Brown strands, weakened by chemicals, detach from her head and spread into chaos on the walls
Each strand a microcosm of the wilderness it came from
Their color reminds her of her body
She always paints her skin a shade too dark
Her shape? She always gets it wrong
She’s never thin enough
Her hips are always too wide
Her nose, too wide
Her lips, too wide
Each strand of hair reminds her why she hates this ritual


She thinks of the two of them
She’s too shy to dream of their bodies, so she dreams of their hair
Imagines the strands entwining
His: straight, soft
Hers: straight, too--on a good day
Maybe they will never blend, but at least these strands are willing to yield to each other’s coils
When she feels brave, she thinks of their skin
His is the sunrise casting everything in gold
Pale light she wants to bathe in
Hers, the shadow born in corners light rejects
The distance between dark and dawn is the definition of sunrise
The distance between dark and dawn is the definition of sunrise
The distance between them is necessary


Ifeanyi doesn’t live there anymore

This morning, she shampooed herself out of her skin
Lying in all this brown called ebony, she re-baptized herself in soap suds
Cleansed herself of mud and dead leaves
Rinsed off shadow
She painted herself wet sand between lovers’ tanned toes
She painted herself tiger’s eye
She molded herself arms big
Enough to hold you in
Carved warm eyes deep as pools to drown your uncertainty in
Sculpted ears that could swallow your sadness
Spelled beautiful in the breakage on the walls
Stepped out of the shower
Saw the sun rise