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Marlin Figgins

Letters to Dark Boy: On Rejecting the Body.

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Most Familiar Dark Boy,

my imagined likeness— we are truly one & the same,

You & Your Body— The Once-Was Fingernail
& The Teeth its Conqueror. These are us if only
by another name…

I, too, pick at my skin in the night until I can
be believed to have another’s body as my own. I, too,
have scratched myself raw & red & blame
even this on my Blackness. I throw my body
into another in my waking moments & hope not to
bloody their sheets in pursuit of the desired numbness.
What of your hope, Dark Boy,

if I am your shame? The sheet stained,
shown brown, dried now; the streaks verging
on invisible one of the several you'll find days after; the
aftermath of your uncoaxable roughness—
as expected— the lover's blood underneath your fingernails—
& the following half-sigh, the
mutual it’s okay it’s okay it’s going to be okay
it happens— this kind of thing… happens

watch the tears that follow & that passing pain
that you will fix upon, hold close & name your own

This, too, is me. I’ve become that kind of
accidental violence we've all mistaken as inevitable.

Dark Boy,
how like you is it to reject your own body
while obscuring the others dark as you?

How like you to hide from the world,
from me, by burying yourself in another?

You who— wiping your used & overexposed self with me
hope to give this off to something
gone or intending to become so…

Dark Boy,
You are too used to running,
too used to leaving behind a shroud,

You who have resigned yourself to lies &
illusions, self-convinced to lie beside another & imagine
their body to be so unlike yours.

Dark Boy,
You are Black to your Soul,
& I am merely your remaining body of selfishness.

O Beautiful Dark Boy,
you will not allow us to be together & satisfied. You believe
I am dirty, your shame, that I am to be washed from you, most
certainly by your own hand— though that much is felt

& never to be spoken of. I am the historical failure
that comes alongside your love & those like it—
I am the blind bumping you still mistake for comfort.

I am the proof of your breaking— being
both action & being— but it's already known that
you'll reject me

[run to that pitiful
monochrome sky of yours
like all men do]

but how long can you go
without yielding to my whisper?

— Sincerely,
Your Body Rejected

Letters to Dark Boy: On the Remnants of Pride.

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Prideful & Worn Body,

How is that I fail to find you beautiful,
is it your bruised & wet defining everything but?

Is it your hands chaining me to the mud
& forcing us to be the beast political?

Yes, I hear the sweetest of your whispers & I
keep them close. Since I, too, hunger for that
kind of familiarity, though I refuse to claw
through the soil alone. I will not allow myself to
dig any more graves single handedly; I do not want to allow
myself to be bruised & subject to the simplicity
of your vulnerability— Because of this,

I’ve begun to doubt even my own humanity
because all its traits seem to smell exactly like you:
that characteristic & overwhelming violence,
that desire for a warmth to be ruptured someday,
the nursing of a voice that is destined to be smothered.
Unlike you, I am heard, even if only once in dream.
Myself, alone with you,
the body—

its words warning of
a baby craning its neck
& mouth to reach its own nipple.

& from this,
I now know there is nothing more human than to reach
with gums first & find the source of your thirst
tender & reflective as a snakes’ skin,

to blame the world for its teeth,
as if they were not the ones rotten
& jagged pulled from your mouth
in a nightmare.

My Regretful Form,
I know you’ve bitten that
dark arm of yours to a single shade
of reddish-brown in search for me

that you’ve likened your closeness
with blood & skin to the source of your loneliness

but do you understand that when we come together,
I am hidden in your scent of decay, that our story is lost
in their plugged ears
& we become a single, common thread
which they’ve reduced to pain?

Don’t you understand I am running solely
to become a song unmistakably Dark & human?
That if we were to dress ourselves in the name of their Greek Gods
we’d become all the more beautiful,
tragic, & maybe even understandable
in their eyes?

I am sorry. I am sorry. I do not love you
as you are. I am incapable of doing so.
Don’t you see I do not know how to care for
a body— run your fingers across my bruising,
my aching spine until this is believable—
why would you entrust yourself like this?

I will reject you & our beloved names
because I know them significant & comforting

because I fear we may never become
anything more than the dark body split
open on the pavement
& the boy remaining in its shadow.

So yes, we are one in the same,
alone in our search for ourselves —
using what we’ve left
to jump into the belly we find most charming
in the moment,
soon to be coated in our respective shames
& darknesses.

& in this moment,
we are so sure in the fact that we exist,
& that we are always reaching for the monochrome sky
to which we belong.

—In Time,
The Boy Remaining

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