Where does the dehumanization of men begin to ensure the perpetuation of the patriarchy and do we even see it?
I saw him.
But quickly turned away-
from the tears that appeared oddly placed.
Proportions of strength mingled with unspoken fears,
that broke through the makeshift shield of boldness.
I might have seen him there.
Lingering between becoming and failure,
Halting memories of
childhoods lost in the fires of being
a stoic shadow of self
a notion of boldness unrealized.
I couldn’t have seen him,
balancing expectation with
the weight of unearned priviliges,
I never saw.
Ayoola, ore mi,
A thousand oceans and broken telephone wires could not separate us. As I usually do, I have mused and mused over your last careful and cursive letter. Perhaps, I should have celebrated the coming of a new life by going through the traditional fanfare. Tears of joy. A congratulatory call. More tears. Anticipation. Rather, your impending birth has had me contemplating our beloved Orisha. I’ve thought about it often enough to say it: this new life must be floating somewhere between orun ati aye. Are you impatient? I cannot bear the anguish of waiting or more still, my absence.
Between soothing tears and building broken bridges, I have been praying for light. When the darkness engulfed my blindness I found it easier to shield my body. I enjoyed the invisibility and I would sometimes gracefully dance between the uneven shadows I found. My own was lost but there were many I found along the way. But I still prayed for the light. I prayed fervently and fearfully, knowing that my body- naked, shapeless and contorted would be seen- be unveiled-
These questions, as do thoughts of how many tears paradise can carry, elude me daily. Where do we find the strength to build when stones so quickly turn to sand? Supposing I lost my footing, which I constantly do–which of the two worlds would accept my heavy, sinful bounty of a body? Ore mi, I am still falling:
Ore mi, I am still falling:
I don start again, abi? I know. All my love to Baba, at long last, some sense in the title. And to my beloved, yes, mine: whisper not only the beauty but also the pure evils and maladroits of our Great Care-Taker. If you won’t, I shall, and you know that is a promise
To more days of Sangria sweetness.
I see the dimming lights in their eyes,
of something often,
of something close,
of something cherished,
of something forgotten.
There is futility in attempting to put these pieces together,
But I am drawn to it–
this exercise in impossibility.
I’ve dreamt of the paths untrodden,
that they might have missed to reach this place
of unfounded dreams and unspoken hopes.
To label this failure would be too easy.
On this seemingly fruitless journey, we have been waiting.
Haltingly going neither backwards nor upwards-
Floating between the intermediary of who we dreamed to become
that which our reflections mockingly produce.
we make gods of our bodies
and starve passion through the unwritten literature of our souls.
we are searching,
searching perhaps for that which we lost long before this journey began.
searching greater still, for that which our hands have not formed
nor our minds fathomed.
And They tell us-
that we are dreaming larger than we can become-
Because becoming has never been
in our power-
Mother, now that we are separated by these large waters-
And by crackling fibre lines-
that sometimes transform your humming voice into unfamiliar muffles.
Now that we are separated-
I feel somehow unable.
You have never asked me to carry your burden
I feel heavy.
The weight of the unknown-
balances unsteadily above
It is only now-
that I realize
I have been navigating this world through
And Mother, I am ashamed to say-
that all this while
I secretly thought it was
who had needed me most.
Never truly acknowledging
now that my own lack of-
and is hastily demanded to
Mother, we are now separated-
by these man-made borders.
But separated still-
by so much more,
that I cannot-
I hear them in quiet moments.
These women with their mourning songs-
So hauntingly beautiful,
So hollow and wide
but always reaching my spirit in it’s darkest depths.
I sometimes call out to them to stop.
Knowing however, that I want nothing of the sort.
These women whose wails have created more life
and pleasure than can be comprehended.
They carry their mourning songs sewn and wrapped across their hearts.
These women with calloused hands that have cultivated and uprooted their hopes
and have faithfully watered the ego’s of pot-bellied husbands.
These mourning Women with their distant looks
and forgotten stories.
I have seen them many times before
in mirrors of the past and echos of the future
I shut my eyes and try to paint a lighter reflection-
one that demands less of my being.
She appears again, silent at first
And then her mourning song begins.
And where did we come from?
We have brought our love to the alter of Zion.
Praying that the spirits of our Abiku will rise again.
We whisper forgotten prayers into the imaginations of our future,
Clasping hope to the unknown,
perhaps we waited too long.
For the bang,
what was never in our power.
And they keep telling me: my Black is beautiful.
As though this new revelation should surprise me.
Shock me, into
appreciating my existence, and to be grateful for my borrowed space.
How do they know I do not bow to my temple of blackness daily?
and pay homage often to the struggles whitened out in history texts?
They encourage me to accept my wide heavy hips and thick thighs.
They speak in weak tones of expression of inner beauty and imitations of color blindness,
Who are these that dictate what my reflections should sing?
Those who trap my stories in a box
Those who describe me as one thing.
One beautiful Black thing.
Why should i be defined, aligned and understood?
they teach me to know myself, while
always fearing i will recognize the lies behind their borrowed truths
and hand-woven sermons
Having produced an image of me that they find palatable and comfortable,
they clip my wings and demand i soar.
You only ever taught me to love and to be true,
Assuring me that this was enough armor to meet the world with.
You prepared me to hope in the stars and pray to the winds.
You promised that faith could conquer all battles.
You made me understand the pain of others before my own.
You taught me to sooth the wounds on the backs of my foes.
You showed me that wisdom would always dwell in the rows of cornrows that lay upon my head.
You sang the hymns on the misery of wars un-fought.
You decorated my childhood with stories of the evils of men.
You taught me to be silent too soon and
Young girl, I pray you see these vultures hovering over you.
They prey on innocence.
Taking blood when able.
How can you decipher their evils?
My young one, they will come bearing gifts
of perfumed prose,
that may seem heartfelt but is rather a memorized eulogy.
Silky phrases that plead the divergence of legs,
and the raising of hips.
Young girl, I pray you believe your worth.
Immeasurable and unquantifiable.
Young girl, I pray you learn to love the broken reflection.
Tender and complex.
Young girl, it might seem like you will never win,
in this game of greed and falling queens.
But know this
That the worst of the vultures,
that suck you dry, leaving you hollow and barren
They are birthed
out of you