Rozina Jessa

Chocolate Face

i had something called
a bait-ul-ilm teacher;
her voice didn’t sound like
me but she had sun
spots on her cheeks
like my mom did

on saturdays she’d line
us up against a blue
wall in the mosque
and all our tiny brown
hands would cake it
with fingerprints

she’d say, “what do you
do when someone at
school calls you chocolate
face?” and we’d all
snicker and she’d sigh
“it’s not funny”

years later at a sleepover
i was lying down on the
ground of a sutton place
hotel suite and i heard
a girl from shaughnessy
call me ghetto

and i think i found out
what i would do
if somebody called
me chocolate face
in that moment
on the penthouse floor

i would sleep that night
saying nothing back
and when all were asleep
i whispered to the
universe why it had to give
me this brown skin

and it took years until
i could look at my face
in the mirror and see
its richness, its goodness
its sweetness and most
importantly its chocolate

it took stripping away
the labels i gave to
a colour and supplying
them with new ones ;
it took me
it took me.

Rozina Jessa is a writer from Vancouver, BC. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BFA in Theatre Acting and a BA minor in Creative Writing. She has previously had her poetry published through In/Words Magazine. Her writing aims to reflect the hidden truths about being a woman of colour. More of her content can be found through her instagram page: @rozinajessapoetry