Prayer Book for Vanishing


Anything black nuh good.
Jamaican Patois Maxim

White mirror of morning,
the body is yours. Yours the face
to anoint with Epsom salts,

clean teaspoon of bleach
aside in the decanter.
What holy water.

Approach the angels
to efface this blackness,
another tar baby, self

I am scorching. In the night
find nothing but a dagger of teeth.
Pitch-black marrow, vile

pigment unwanted,
set fire to my undesirable.
Un-soot and scrape,

until Grandmother, hissing
redbone made sacred
in her lightness,

liming me in talcum
before I faced anyone.
Grandmother, indelible.

I wear your undoing like a mask.
Wear your porcelain pock of dust
across my forehead

as one of the damned.
Sired in the image of no one.
Each day, each day. Accost the angels:

Marilyn, Jesus, and Mother Mary,
kissing their pink cheeks, the rail-thin
white skin of the heavenly.

Their eyes that same blue
swimming pool marked No Locals Please,
even now still glittering baptismal,

that clear awe in which I dived
for blessings, hid for hours
my kinky-head underwater,

to suck and marvel at the suntan taste
of foreign which could transform me
eventually. But Lord I think

my angels do not hear. Lord,
they are tourists gawking through
the cages of my poverty,

who take pity in this squalor
then return to far moons.
My black face

a blemish in their photographs.
Each morning the same horse-fly,
milk I must throw out.

The albino sun my enemy.
Whole days spent under cellophane,
under parasol, days wrapped

tight in scalding creams, skin a purge
of litanies. Baking soda. Peroxide. Blue cake-soap.
Witch-doctor fixes for vanishing.

This ghost sarcophagus.
Come burn and beseeching. Come alabaster.
I drink and drink

to the dark disappearing.
That familiar sting.
The one sweet arc of my unmaking.