He Loves Me (Not)


he loves me

he loves me not 

he loves me
when I’ve stripped my hair of its cultural volume and
forced it into a
            position it does
not want to be in
evidenced by the roots
which will never grow straight 

he loves me not
when I spend hours in the beauty salon
wasting his time and
              his money
              on pointless things 

he loves me
when I use my words to formulate full sentences
unencumbered by my “colloquialisms”
(as he likes to call them) 
but he really means my “black” speech

he loves me not
because I like poetry and
but because I am familiar with the poetry of Virginia Woolf
                                                  and art of Andy Warhol
I don’t see his adoration quite so clearly when I mention
Mickalene Thomas
Maya Angelou

he loves me
because I am so different from those
other black girls
he’s met before
there’s just something about
me that is . . . 
                      (read: whiter)

he loves me not
because I am a canvas
on which many perspectives coalesce
but because he can see his culture
pressed into the soft spots on my
saturated skin

he loves me
because I am like water
shifting and sliding and squeezing
until I fit the role I have been
cast to fill 

he loves me not
for the richness of my skin
but in spite of it 

even still
he loves me
doesn't he?