I am fifteen the first time
my palagi mother takes me
to be electrocuted.

Before the doctor begins her work
my mother points out the problems
of my body. She’s too hairy for a woman!
[says my mother]
We can fix that!
[says the doctor]

The white doctor
holds her tool
between her fingers,
not like a gun, but the way
you hold a pen—furious
in your hand—just before
you put words of violence
to the page, confident
in the correctness of your ideas.

I do not ask to hold
my mother’s hand
but stare instead into
the halogen bulb floating
above me.

With each new cursive dip
of the doctor’s pen she seeks
to rewrite my story, burning
all that had been there before.

Imagine a bevy of small pokers
stabbing each pore. A thin-tipped
needle carrying a current, inserted
into each unique follicle, foraging
for the root of my black hair—
white heat destroying all it touches.

Hali Sofala-Jones

Hali F. Sofala-Jones is a Samoan American teacher and writer from Georgia. She’s earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her poems have been published in Nimrod International Journal, The Bitter Oleander, CALYX, Blue Mesa Review, online at The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She is currently a Lecturer at Georgia College where she teaches courses on Multiethnic Literatures. Outside of teaching and writing, she enjoys introducing the world to her toddler, playing Assassin’s Creed, and cooking for friends and family. Her debut poetry collection, Afakasi | Half-Caste is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2019.