The Exchange is the Weekly’s poetry corner, where a poem or piece of writing is presented with a prompt. Readers are welcome to respond to the prompt with original poems, and pieces may be featured in the next issue of the Weekly.
the color of girlhood by Chima “Naira” Ikoro
my sister says “Chima, do you hate the color pink?”
“no. i don’t, why do you ask?”
she says that she’s sorry if i felt like she forced it on me
her birthright, choosing the bedding and cabinets and decorations in a room we shared;
the tv, the headboards, the matching pajamas from Bobby Jack
everything was pink
a very specific pink
i honestly didn’t mind.
i didn’t even notice.
i was just happy to feel included.
i was told my favorite color is blue
because only one person could like pink,
and younger siblings are blegh, she likes blue,
she skinned her knee three times this summer and only cried the first time
she was almost a boy,
someone has to like blue
everyone can’t like pink
everyone can’t be Blossom someone’s gotta be Buttercup someone’s gotta be Bubbles
little sisters are made of velcro, made of cling wrap, little sisters like blue
unless you’re an older brother, then they like pink,
in an annoying “girls are so dumb” kind of way.
in my mind, pink is a power. if you don’t choose it for yourself it won’t work.
if i was so fine with it, why did i paint everything white when she went away to law school?
everything. her headboard, the walls, turned the entire room into a blank space,
something about it massaged my brain. it wasn’t intentional,
neither was the pinkifacation of my childhood.
i wore blue because to fulfill my duties as the assigned antithesis.
i was good at my job in more ways than my parents preferred
i bought my first pink purse last year and i really like it.
for some reason i keep letting her know she can borrow it.
at my first salaried job, my boss asks me what my favorite color is
and i took the time to consider it.
green. actually. i really like green.
another person asked me, my friends asked me around my birthday,
each time i say green, i have learned that anything can be powerful if you choose it, if it feels like yours.
a couple months ago a child asked me
“Chima what is your favorite color”
before i could reply she says
she says “mine is blue,”
a younger sister herself,
and i had to stop myself from saying “mine too.”
“Write a love letter or a letter of confession to a color or object”
This poem and prompt are inspired by a workshop led by Rich Robbins!
This could be a poem, journal entry, or a stream-of-consciousness piece. Submissions could be new or formerly written pieces.
Submissions can be sent to bit.ly/ssw-exchange or via email to email@example.com
Featured below is a response to a previous prompt from a reader who is currently incarcerated.
Chima Ikoro is the Weekly’s Community Builder.