Broken Black heart.
Tattered Black heart.
Broken Black fish.
Battered Black fish.
Black fish out of water.

I offered my Black heart on a silver platter,
And they took it for the slaughter.

My Black heart was not used to beating outside of its Black chest.
I closed my eyes and requested a rest.
White bottoms of white dresses flitted around me.
Hands the color of pale moonlight found me.

Tattered Black heart.

“Would you like to come inside?”
They were so welcoming at the start.
“We are your neighbors.”
They invited me to dinner.

I watched the butler in his Brown skin and Black tie
Recite the laminated menu lines.
When I pointed to the main dish,
He promised sinisterly to obey my wish.

“To eat such hearty meat,
Will you pay in organs or your seat?”
My seat, previously affixed to the ground,
Now hovered above a void of darkness.

My heart stilled as though preparing itself.

“What organs?
What do you mean”

“For meat that sweet,
The animal needs to feast.”
He put his finger on my chest.
It dropped from my shoulder to my breast.

His finger grazed my nipple.
“The animal needs something supple.
It looks like you have a couple.”
I glanced at my own body anew.

Sensing my discomfort, he grimaced.
“Fine. There’s one more option still.
To supplant the fatty tissue, the beast must kill.”

To choose between an animal and a beast.
I wondered if there was an option to leave.
I had been so allured by the home’s exterior,
I had forgotten to inquire about the home’s superior.

Brown skin, Brown man.
Put down your hands.
The puppeteer in white
Steers with unclear sight.
Brown man, Brown hands.
What about your wife?
Did you know she’s in the kitchen,
Trying to survive?
Did you know her hands are clutched around a butcher’s knife?
The brown-skinned sees the brown skin of my thigh,
Realizes it matches the skin below his eye,
And decides that I’m not fit to die.

“You have three seconds to leave”
He pulls my organ from my chest.
“Take this lesson not in jest.
If I should hear my family cry,
I’ll crush your heart until you die.”

Black, Brown, and White.
I sprint past,
Worried that each breath
Will be my last.

I turn the corner,
Consumed with fear,
And my headlights
Stumble upon a deer.

Her complexion matches mine,
The parts of her that I can find.
Blood stains most of her skin
Alongside bruises on her shins.
Her eyes are crazed as, at last, she looks.
Her gaze directing me to a wall of books.

“Depart from here.
You must leave this place.”
Her hands cupped the sides of my face.
“They’ll try to tell you it’s different here,
But the only color they don’t see is clear.”

She splays her palm along my side.
I use her other hand to hide.
We take great pains to find a path
That leads us, hidden, out the back.

This woman’s knuckles graze the latch,
When suddenly her foot yanks back.
White-gloved hands drag her down the hall,
Into darkness, I watch her fall.

The pulsating cavity of my chest
Alerts me to its unwelcome guest.
The emptiness that my sternum objects
To the organ I let my ally eject.

Just as my fingers brush the door,
I hear a terrifying roar.
Likened to my seat from before,
A darkened void becomes the floor.

“I told you if you couldn’t ditch,
I’d hunt you down, you loathsome witch.
My family’s life is all that matters,
This time, only your heart will shatter.”

He made the mistake of thinking
That saving his wife’s life required my leaving.
He squeezed my heart until it bled.
I remember the sensation of no tears shed.
I remember the void turning a startling red.
I remember the longing for a bed.
I remember wondering what might have been different,
If instead of my heart, I had used my head.

Mikayah Parsons ’24 is a staff writer

Aoife McGuire ’24 is a staff artist