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“From the Mouth of a Beach Trader”

3 July , 2009

“ I try to sell them my felt-embroidered cowboy hats, but they let me fade into the air. My black self. My whole black self, fading into the white of their squeaking sands.

“It is impossible that they ignore me, because my body demands to be seen. My skin, glistens with a fine sweat, borne of the drums, arrows and sunglasses I bear on my shoulders from one table to the next.

“My dreams, such as they are, exist for them only as a joke. Worse, an irrelevancy, because my proud black self must fade into the wisps of their dismissive anger. They show me their backs, never their hearts.

“Believe me, I do not want to take even one second of your joy, your holiday. You deserve this time to breathe from your hectic running lives.

“I just ask that you give me one second. Notice me, as I try to catch your eye. I don’t want to take a thing that is not mine or that I have not earned with the strength of my own forearms.

“I cannot help but assume I earned the right to a little respect after the nights I crossed wind-whipped sand, then crowded low with forty others into the decks of a rowing boat, built only for joy-rides, as I crossed a sea which divides my land from yours.

“I cannot hope that you look into my eyes and see the needs of my elderly parents seeking shade in a village, or the dreams of my beautiful girlfriend, bearing my first child. She waits for me to return, proud with the glory of a new man, fortunes found on the other continent.

“I never tell her of my infidelity: That I share my worn mattress with seven other men whom despite our array of degrees and culinary skills, can never manage to put more than one can of beans on our night-time floorboards.

“I will tell neither her, nor you, for I will not grow bitter. Nor will I squirm as you shoo me away like an unwanted fly. I will not stop you enjoying your holidays, nor will I bring ou the ill-fate of a jealous eye.

“I ask only that you see me, perhaps, and wish me a good day.”

From → Poetry and prose

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