Scars of Youth Feel Different on Ethnic Skin

the skin on my hand

is plump.

etched warnings on my palms,

blisters on my fingers

yet my hands are soft—


dark but human,

the world

is what gave birth to me

yet the world

doesn’t accept me.


the skin on my face is youthful,

dried tears create a halo

around the brittle bags

sunken under my bloodshot eyes


yet my irises hold innocence


purity and patience is

what i allow to guide my gaze

for i know what hatred looks like

coming in the form of another

who treats me

like the other.


i’ll be another other forever.


i couldn't be like them.

for i am not one of them


this soil i share with them

doesn't work to mend me,

it tears me apart


breaks my

tanned skin until

bloody

white flesh can

satiate them


the burdens i bear are far from common

for a child of my age


i am unbalanced,

my outer youth scarred

by the aged evil of the world


scars of youth feel

different

on ethnic skin.


- Aqsa Mahmood

This poem is a story of that struggle, the bloody battles I'd fight for liberation I didn't understand the meaning of until recently. Liberation: No longer posing to be perfect for certain crowds. The speaker is going through the growing pains of learning of racism within her country, of understanding that her inside doesn't matter, because her outside has already been judged before she could speak. As a first-generation Pakistani-American teen, I am all too familiar with the struggle of finding identity in a country that claims you are its daughter, but gives you the importance of an outcast. I spent my preteen years struggling to grasp the perfect balance of both the West and the Southwest, trying to grapple just who I am supposed to be versus what I am expected to be. I felt as though I was putting on an act in front of different groups-- the 'cultured daughter' in front of my family, and the 'white on the inside' girl at school. Yet these two polar parts of me composed me; I am Pakistani and I am American. Upon this realization, I was able to feel as though I can mesh two parts of myself to create the 'authentic me'.

Biography: Aqsa Mahmood is a budding young adult South Asian American poetess and author of "sour lemon fate". She has had her poetry published in various magazines, journals and anthologies since she was eleven years old, and continues to pursue her passion of writing as a nineteen year old university student. Aqsa's poetry ranges from many styles and subjects; she is currently studying human nature in literature and weaves her findings into her writing. Human influence interests her deeply, and she portrays her research in compelling, socially impactful and concise poetry. Aqsa aspires to pursue her childhood of being an author and strives to share her unique perspective on humanity with the world.


Cover Photo Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/arts-entertainment/arts/news/addressing-colourism-art-1639339