Black Boy Painted As Butterfly

Black Boy Painted As Butterfly
by Khalisa Rae

It is your back that compels
them to gawk, transfixed, as they follow you
flutter away like a ballerina gliding on ice.
It is a dance you do. How you pirouette across
ponds on to plant-life, your angles symmetric
and sharp, your stained skin
geometric shapes splattered with
vibrant pigments.

Watch how the orange of your cape glimmers
in the sun, the way your wings wave so gracefully
it makes them dizzy. Landing on the edge of leaves
softly as if to kiss them. Then leaving again, 
never settling in your last spot
for fear of being land-locked
by glass walls.

Your dance a gentle opening and closing,
widening and spreading,
as if to invite them to watch,
but you are not here to stay.
You are merely an eyelash batting.

They want to make you a show pony-spectacle,
a painted play toy, a circus animal with playful face
each wing-tip lined with rouge, each dot a
place for more blush. 

You always run before
opening night, always looking for the next
street to make your stage.


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Khalisa Rae published her first book, Real Girls Have Real Problems, in 2012. Her recent work has been seen in Requiem Magazine, Dirty Chai, and Tishman Review among others. She is a finalist in the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Prize and a winner of the Fem Lit Magazine Contest. She is currently submitting her full-length poetry book, entitled Outside the Canon: Poetry as Protest, for publication.