The Peach Crayon
a poem by Prerna Kulkarni
Six hours ago, my mother kissed me goodnight,
And now I am awake in a room full of light.
The light is tinted scarlet- the reflection of my door,
The light illuminates a figure sitting on my floor.
Although my exclamation is loud,
This figure does not move.
I shakily ask, “Who are you?”
When the figure does not respond,
I hastily get out of bed,
As I am about to approach it, the figure turns its head.
I see a girl,
Her skin as brown as mine.
She calls to me,
“Look at what I designed!”
She points to a paper on the floor,
One that I had failed to notice before.
On the paper is a scribble of another little girl,
Her skin as fair as a peach and her eyes twinkling like a pearl.
Amidst my confusion I ask,
“Dear little girl, who is this other girl on paper?”
Her brows in a furrow—she exclaims,
“Why, that is me,
Would you not agree?”
“Little girl, your skin is brown and her’s is fair,
May I ask, what happened there?”
The little girl is now visibly upset,
As she points to her crayon box, she says,
“These are the only colors that I ever get.”
In her box are the colors of the rainbow,
As well as white, black, a blackish brown, and a—
And suddenly it dawns on me that this little girl,
This innocent child
Has had her thoughts defiled.
She tells me,
“This is the color that everybody uses to paint their skin!
It always will be because it always has been!”
Now she sees that I am upset,
And she asks me, why must you fret?
“Little girl, there is no one skin color
That is universal for all.
You are not the color of a peach,
You are not the color of the sand on the beach.
You are the color of the bark on the trees,
You are the color of chamomile tea.”
As I am about to say, “You are also the color of me!”
I notice that this girl has the same dark eyes that I have.
The same prominent nose and lips that I have.
As I reach out my hand to touch her frizzy hair,
I realize that there is nothing there!
I blink once,
And in the moment I close my eyes and reopen them,
I see that the little girl has left my room,
And that I am now lying down in my bed.
As I rise from my mattress and walk towards the door,
I spot a tiny object on the floor.
I bend down and I am shocked to see,
That it is a tan crayon,
The same color as me.
Cover photo source: http://www.jennyscrayoncollection.com/2020/06/multicultural-crayons.html