Summer Tan

I feel more like me with a summer tan,

my skin darkens a couple shades and I glow,

it’s like my body is telling me that this is how I was meant to be.

My melanin doesn’t know I wasn’t the one who decided to move,

I can’t tell it that I was only 9 months old and miss the sun too.

I explained to my father yesterday that I belong nowhere,

here they ask me, “where are you from?”

there they ask me, “are you from outside?”

He assures me that they ask him too.

I explain that it’s different. I’ve never not been asked.

I’ve never gotten to just be home —

Tacitly accepted, my name pronounced correctly.

Even my tanned glowing skin does not provide a map back there,

it could be from anywhere.

At the Cradle of Humankind, outside of Johannesburg,

the tour guide earnestly welcomed us all home.

She looked at us with recognition, like we were hers,

not like CBP interrogating you while stamping your passport.

People from my motherland don’t recognize me as theirs here.

There, my cousins can’t tell when I’m making a joke.

They think I just jumbled the accented words of my native tongue,

I often do.