I apply my war paint,
The colors of my tribe.
Meticulously I draw these lines,
Unique ways of identifying one another.
Eyebrows are grown thick
And darkened in brown paint disguised as hair.
They pinch upward like two blades half open.
A warning sign for the enemy;
A particular obsession of the tribe.
A black road lines each lid
Sweeping up to my temples.
A steady hand is a sign of leadership.
The nose is smaller through well-crafted illusion,
Darkened around a narrow sliver of light
Like a crack in the door of a room
Storing the map to our homelands.
The mountains of my cheeks
Are dusted in translucent white powder.
They shine in worship.
Below them, ripe pink apples warn of trouble
And camouflage in a beckoning jungle.
My mouth is painted the color of freshly spilt blood.
Thick and glistening, it draws the beaks of vultures.
Within it, a mixture of the divine
And the deadly.
I press the pigments in
Until they are the cells of new skin.
Brushes make soft circular motions
In deep ritual.
In battle, I am stealth and unforgiving,
Mixing intuition with magic.
The enemy hides in the trees.
But I seek no shade,
And I am not afraid.
At dusk, the tribe returns,
Each carrying a blank face.
We are a parade of bloody spears.
We shed our war garments
And wipe our faces.
Tonight, we will drink
And recount the details.