What I'm Not

by Manessa Riser

Didn’t know I was outside until a cloud fell,
Creating a foggy veil
A misty shell stealing my vision
Discombobulating my senses,
yet leading to sensory enlightenment.No sight, but I could touch every droplet of water suspended in the air
No sight, but moisture partnered in a slow dance with each one of my taste buds
They say water is odorless,
but I swear
With no sight, I smelled every molecule of hydrogen and oxygen
An interruption,
Faint, but painfully loud.
With no sight, my hearing had no filters
No limits.
No boundaries.
“Who are you” began to echo in my ears repeatedly, until I answered,
“I don’t know.”
Ignoring my answer,
The question echoed again.
This time piercing my eardrums.
The echoes only stopped when I spoke;
A constant flow of words would alleviate the pain:
“I’m Manessa. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know who I’m talking to.”
Blabbered articulation in exchange for auditory comfort.
The echoes got louder.
No longer a single voice,
A multitude now
Even more excruciating
“Who are you? Who are you?”
“I’m Manessa. I’m a …”
Echoes start again,
overpowering my voice,
disregarding my words,
Beating on my eardrums, like congas, to an erratic beat.
No rhythm.
I’m crying
And yelling,
Voice cracking
“I’m Manessa. I’m complicated. I don’t know who I am yet, but I know who I’m not anymore”
No echoes.
I keep talking.
“I’m no longer the girl who was smart enough for scholarships, but dumb enough to think racism no longer existed.
I’m no longer the girl who couldn’t define colorism, but let it define her attraction preferences.
I’m no longer the girl who took pride in being told she talked “white.”
I’m no longer the girl who distanced herself from her culture.
I’m no longer the girl who needed external validation of her beauty.
I’m no longer the girl afraid of success.
I’m no longer the girl who accepts mediocrity.
I’m no longer the girl who…”
An interruption,
Faint, but painlessly loud.
“Who are you?”
The question felt different
I answered,
“I’m a product of growth; I'm change”
The fog cleared.
In hopes to expose the culprits of the echoes, The veil lifted
Sight restored.
Leaving behind a beautiful transparency
Of nothing,
But me,
Staring at a reflection of who I am:
Movement. Progression. Change.

Photo credit: Deposit Photos