There's not enough soap.
Not in my tub. Not in the world.
Every night, I scour and soak
Until my fingers and toes
Are crinkled and raw.
Tomorrow, I'll cross that schoolyard
Scrubbed fresh and spotless.
But they'll remind me:
There's never enough soap.
They tell me my skin is dirty.
Brown. Disgusting. And dirty.
No one wants to be around dirty things.
Shouldn't be mixed with the clean.
Dirty thingsAre never allowed near the clean.
And my skin is so very brown.
Like the color of the mud clots
They fling at me
While they laugh at how clever they are,
Making the perfect match:
Schoolyard mud and my dirty, filthy skin.
On my walk home
There's no schoolyard mud,
But there are rocks.
I guess rocks are dirty, too
Because those get tossed at me, instead.
I run, I hide behind my bathroom door.
The suds will wash away all the mud.
But there's not enough soap to fade
The brown of my skin
Or the black and blue of rock-shaped bruises.
Onto the cheeks of my reflection.
And over the bathwater murk
I see my face clearly now.
My dirtless, beautiful, brown-skinned face.
And I let every drop
Of foul slander and shame
Drain out of the tub, and into the sewers
Where it all belongs.
Because there's not enough soap
To wash away the dirty, festering garbage
Or disinfect the rancid, filthy lies,
Polluting the minds and rotting the hearts
Of those foolish
And fearful enough to believe
Is more, is better, and cleaner
On account of how much white
Or brown's in their skin.
There's just not enough soap.
Not enough in all the world for that.
~ D. Harrell, The Elephant Trials (2016)