Mask Of Makeda- ioney sst10

29 Jan

Behind The Mask Of Makeda
(after ‘The Same City’ Terrance Hayes)

Being human is not enough.
I’m an intern for a film company in Rome

The first day, my arrival
permeates the office

like the lingering stench of feces.
Phone calls cut.  Conversations hang

fingers hover over keyboards

necks twist to their limits
pupils track  me from door to desk

each step a breach of the norm
a stain on whiteness.

Let me start again…

I’m the first person of colour  to infiltrate
these white walls

I have to defy suspicions
of brown faces on news bulletins

burning cities,  extinguish fantasies
of hip shaking jezebels

answer for every crime committed
justify every immigrant that arrives

on Italian shores because each one
is related to me,

and politely prevail.
at. all. times.  be.   polite.

Know that frowning is intimidating
my bone structure threatening.

Some colleges make an effort
one shows me a photo of his

adopted Madagascan daughter
the other plays Bob Marley on his lap top

my smiles stretch to smother awkward

When the whole office is bought lunch
I sit in the corner alone

smile and nod when I’m told
they miscounted.

So I wear mask of  Makeda
prepare for battle and mental warfare

to navigate across an open plan office
being woman is not enough.

I’m never a woman, always a Black first
each morning I apply a queens

war paint, protect the
delicate with  jewelled amour

I going to start again…

I arrive into a sea of fear
drowning every image of

a black woman they cling
onto so desperately

with each step, i command
the sea to part

my melanin a magnet, pulling
their eye balls across the floor.

Neck long.
Back stern.

Chest high.
I had arrived.

Queen Makeda
is now in Rome

‘le persone di roma sentite,
la regina è arrivata… salutare!

“Davvero, che bellissima!”


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