Kneading me to Death

by Angela M. Franklin

I want you to slip inside my suit.

I want you to feel the hot hatred—
the seething disdain when you’re dismissed,
mistreated solely because of skin color.

See what it’s like to stand before
someone in line and know they won’t spot
you but you’re there. Yet they look past
your shadow to one behind you.

Such dismissal feels like branding irons—
cattle prods stampeding your chest cavity,
scarring you with self-contempt.
You’ll contemplate their neglect:
Why won’t they see my humanity?

I want you to know every thud
of prescribed miracle pills plying
your gut, greasing your cranium
trying to erase self-hate— the only
familiar feeling you can’t escape.

See what it’s like to recite
empty promises pledged
in allegiance against a flat hand
placed on your heart to a flag
that has disfavored you
since Plymouth Rock landed
on your kidnapped ancestors.

I want you to understand
what it means to call police
who refuse to show up
or if they do you become
the cuffed suspect.

Please, put on my mantle
but give it back at sunset  
because I want you to
to watch how I manage
to survive dark
when someone is seeking daily
to knead my neck to death.