BLACK IS THE COLOR | Richard Kravitz


Anxiety and doctors’ appointments

lots of each. I chatter to friends.

I feel like I’m under indictment.

Melanoma, a tumor of black stuff,

the same root as melancholy,

black bile, my sadness pressed into skin.

A thin melanoma, melanoma on a diet

isn’t supposed to kill you

unless it’s spread too thin

and dispersed

a mote in the eye

a spot on the liver.

Blackness can be beautiful

Blackness can be anywhere

Blackness can kill.

My blackness, my sadness

what am I to do about it?

My viscid oil, so underrepresented

by a skinny mole, an ebony splotch,

wants a full-body hue

an original sunburn,

not a drop of pigmented shame.

I don’t want an ink spot

To malign me.

I learn new words

like fascia,

not related to fascism

or fascination,

although I might think about being

bludgeoned or bewitched.

Fascia is the thin sheath covering the muscle

in my forearm. “We’ll cut down to the fascia

remove a quarter-size piece of skin,

the entire thickness of skin you understand,

and then cover it with a flap of adjacent skin.”

The thickness of removal is supposed to ensure

that the lethal thinness is fully excised

an overkill by depth and breadth

death prevention

my black interior benign

nothing to worry about.

Richard Kravitz is a psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center in West Haven, CT and teaches psychotherapy and clinical interviewing in the Yale Department of Psychiatry. His poems have been published in JAMA and The British Journal of Psychiatry.