The future

not fixed

draws us forward

as we reach towards it.

Spider tickles my skin

we are weavers, both.

I draw filaments of light

braided with heartstrings,

play our yearning as a harp

in a song not yet learned.

Let the wind sing through me.

Let the children sing to me.

I am my mother’s child.

No thought will free mine

of the legacy of slavery,

only the careful unbinding

of the dragon under my skin,

whose volatile breath 

rips the pleasantries out of my mouth.

The taste of ash gives me courage.

I will scream until no more babies are beaten by the ones sworn to tend them,

until no more Black churches crumble in flames,

until no one looks at my flesh and decides I am less for it.

See my scales, weak men playing God.

See my claws, and shudder.

Recognize reckoning in my serpentine gaze.

Perhaps one day you will understand that I am powered

not by the rage you fear,

but by this underbelly, once rent and rewoven,

which waits for those willing to bare their own.

The downy fullness visible only to those who have also braved fire,

and trauma,

and learned the skill of grief,

and that the hardest thing to do

is to find one’s voice and sing.

The future,

not fixed

draws us forward

as we reach towards it.

We learn that tears are pickaxes,

breaking through the concrete over our hearts.

Wails the tethers that bring our soul pieces home.

Outraged howls the hammers that destroy that which wastes life.

Fists to the sky and voices speaking truth to power the shovels of the Great Turning.

This weaving is not done in a day,

or a lifetime,

and cannot be done alone.

Uncertain, yet inevitable.

Beauty calls us on.

Chaos and infinity

a maelstrom,

a concordance,

the paradox of birthing a tomorrow

where we can see the sky:

One part opening,

envisioning our dancing grandchildren.

Creating through our believing.

One part destroying,

dismantling the structures that imprisoned our ancestors.

Healing through our unraveling.

Seeds cannot grow in undigested shit.

Learn to make compost again.

Let me feel your hot breath.

I will not mind too much if you brush me with your scales.

I know they are there, beneath the patina of fragility

and the weight of complacence.

Don’t tell me you have no time for the revolution,

that it's not your job. 

We are too wily and wild for such nonsense.

I will only listen to your tenderness,

be it whisper 

or roar,

and the truth

that calls you on.

Picture me dancing.

Along the wild edge, 

where land meets the sea.

Belly and thighs bare.

Salt in windswept hair,

sand under bare feet.

Pressing soft tracks

along the warm ocean.

When you think of me,

this strong black woman,

it would be easy 

to envision toil

my endless struggle, 

how hard I must work.

As black women have 

long been measured by 

what we can produce 

and by what against we fight.

Do not lend your voice to the chorus

that would clamor “rest is indulgence

and fun is only for the lazy, or the white.”

Disagree with the hordes 

saying, “we must work ourselves to exhaustion.”

Capitalism was built on our brown backs

Do not try to beat us with that whip, again.

Question that which would ask 

if I deserve 

such relaxation,

and why we believe 

we must earn feeling well.

I have spent too many years 

believing myself worthless 

in this dark skin,

too many hours never accomplishing enough.

My grandmothers did not sing me into being

to work myself to death

for them, or for you, 

and especially not for the system 

that tried to eat them.

No single nap could touch the tiredness settled into these bones.

Play must be my path, now.

Pleasure my guide.

And art my tool,

to chisel the new paradigm into being through our joy.

Strong is a word I, too, have earned,

and also brave.

but now,

but now

let it be brave, too,

to put down shovel

and pick up snorkel

or paintbrush, or pen.

To trade, for a moment,

a sword for a swimsuit.

When you think of me,

do not envision me working

though that will come in myriad essential ways;

Not struggling, please, never that again,

not distressedly shaking my fist at a concrete sky.

Picture my unbound thighs jiggling as I play in the foam,

my unfettered hair swept by the tradewinds,

my copper-brown skin shimmering as I twirl and bend

as I dance my gratitude for this body’s place

in the symphony of sun, sea, and sand.

The taste of salt, and freedom, 

and a soft smile on my lips

as I gaze into the beyond.

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© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry