an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Erin J Doyle

Melanin

Erin J Doyle

Published on
page 22 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

i am so white, that if i went for an evening jog by the roadside
i wouldn’t have to stripe myself safe with reflective tape
i could just
roll my shirt up a little bit

i’m so white, that when i got a tattoo of a white dragon the
tattooist used my bare skin for the dragon’s scales
his white ink
just for the shading

i’m so white, that if i walk naked to the bathroom at two in the morning
my lover may mistake me for a ghost

i’m so white, that on sunny music festival days
strangers forcibly apply sunscreen to me
because they’re worried
but they need to be
i’m already wearing sunscreen
obviously
i’m so white, i have to swear sunscreen
when there’s a full moon

i’m so white, that if i contain my bad hair day under a beautiful scarf
no bus stop stranger will wonder aloud what i’m hiding
or try to snatch it from my head

i’m so white, that if i tell you that i work at a university
you don’t assume i mean as a cleaner and
if i do apply for work somewhere else and don’t even get an interview
i won’t be left wondering if they saw
my name in print
my picture on Facebook and imagined
i’d be lazy or
i’d steal or
i wouldn’t speak English clearly or that
my application wasn’t serious

i’m so white, that in twenty years behind the wheel
i have never once been pulled over or
asked to show my licence and
even in America
on the street
at night
it has never occurred to me that i might not be
one hundred percent safe in front of
an armed police officer

i’m so white, that when the Māori student advisor
told one of my students that if he ever needed anything
he could also come to me because
i am one of us
my student laughed
and i couldn’t blame him

Literally to my face

Erin J Doyle

Published on
page 56 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

(a found poem taken from things said by people who care about my well being)

 

just how much do you weigh?
i know you said you want to gain strength but
you actually want to lose weight

i saw you eating cake and i was like
oh, honey no!
you have to stick to fruit and
i know you said you’re not interested but
i’ll send you the diet info anyway because
you aren’t allowed to get enjoyment out of eating
you’d be a better person of you ate more plain foods

i can say this to you because i love you
you aren’t strong enough and
it hurts me that you don’t think about how it makes
me feel
when you eat
isn’t that enough motivation for you?

i realised we were almost the same size and i was like
oh my god this,
this is my wakeup call!
but you’re not that fat
i’ll stop you before you get that big
i’ll make you thin whether you like it or not
because it’s less about you and more about the
people who have to look at you

now, don’t go acting upset
it’s fine for you to look like that
i’m just saying that
i
personally
would have to kill myself

i don’t believe you
i’ve never seen anyone say
anything mean to you or any other
fat person
you’re just making it up because
you’ve got low self-esteem