black girl freest girl on earth
she throw arms to sky
grow wings. her ascension
stronger than chains.
stronger than rage & this magic
carry her to god. & god shine
through her as she rise. & the spirit
consume everything else,
& cleanse as sage do.
it is always you, sista, who raises me
from the dead. praise your music, your poultice and ointment. this. this is black girl magic. that a sista’s song could bring back what i mistook for crucified. that a sista’s touch could resurrect hope from the grave it made of my body. your voice a harmony with every scream i swallowed last night, humming in my throat until my voice box loses what was stiff & dances.
i’m at a gathering of sisters – they look like me. frankincense and lavender curling out our ears. the glory of heaven through our teeth. our scalps dripping with sweat, rosemary; eyes full of tears. & this the only place
i deem holy today. black girls sing out the ancestors’ names like a prayer for rain. libations crash down to earth from a bottle. we let the first tears fall in these months of blood. we drench ourselves, we let ourselves be glory. we become the heaven we pray to. we become a mercy, a split in the sky & the earth
does not drink our blood today. only our fresh water. only joy that is deeper than us. only gospel like a small river cutting itself into the ground after a storm. i let myself feel everything that we are today. & i feel no fear when i look into my eyes & see
scar // story
my scars are an invisibility cloak. no one will look
at a ghost’s flesh // no one wants to see flesh’s ghost
my scars are skin-memories // textured melodies
passed down // child to woman
hide the child inside the woman // hide the story inside the scar
and no one will ask about them
ode to mouth
the plump cupid’s bow pink and brown
black hair above
bathing in the light of a glowing lotus
ring hanging from my septum.
the sloping upper lip uneven, its asymmetrical
spread as i smile. the big beige teeth,
peekaboo-shy. the smile, mouth
closed when it wants to be pretty.
the pursed lips that come natural
when it’s kissing or impatient or tense.
the lips easily parted. the involuntary
pout. the lines of the skin, how they bathe
themselves in rouge for a night out.
iftar when she kisses you
rise as a crescent moon. bite her lip
as you would a date. break your fast
on her brown honey
The Women in my Family Cook
don’t cook while you’re upset. you’ll poison the food with your anger
– my mother
A woman dark as silence cooks her well-earned rage
down like collards. An off-white woman, pumice-skinned, simmers
resentment in a pressure cooker – tender lambflesh, made ready to eat
by bitter steam, water of cloves, of allspice,
of salt agitated into the air. When the nightmares slunk
between my sheets, I roughened
as my hair, silk scarf torn
from my head by the thrashing, pillows of cotton
scratching at my follicles. I tossed and turned
like water, agitated. I told my mother
that my sleep was haunted. She said, perhaps not.
A ghost is just another mirror
pointed into your mouth. What had you eaten for dinner?