for sky-soft brown boys
“I know a boy who is sky-soft brown.” —Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
sky-soft brown boys don’t melt
into seasons, they stutter into them.
shoes scuffing summer
as they trip backwards into fall.
like leaves, they change color:
first black then purple then blue.
a bruise growing on the pavement
they float above. here, black boys
are angels holied by a brown sky.
watch them stare through you
with their gaping, pothole eyes.
on new year’s: boys, sky-soft
& brown, watch fireworks
wound the air like a bullet.
they crush ice below their feet
& call it dancing, call it music.
we pretend we’re not staring
but we are & they notice.
they snowball down the sidewalk,
shave winter to ash.
wake up in the morning,
sweating a pool of snowflakes.
in spring, black skin peels
off of bone & falls around us
like rain. we strip naked
& stick our tongues out.
nothing is as sweet as a boy that blooms.
nothing will ever be this holy.
press your hands together in prayer
& thank them for this.
sleep now in their afro garden
tomorrow, we’ll untangle ourselves
from a black boy on our way out.
don’t call them missing.
they are still here slicing
oranges into smiles.
tangy & spilling with pulp,
the boys drift on popsicle stick wings
into their sticky, brown sky.
don’t be afraid when the sun reaches
down into them & licks their bones
clean of darkness. their shoelaces
stringing through the clouds.
this time, they do not fall.