after Tracy K. Smith’s “No Fly Zone”
What would your life say if it could talk?
Mine would say giiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrl
and let it spill for weeks before I could even reach that final L.
It would sound just like my homegirl. A hot minute has gone by and we break bread
and serve tea under a night ablaze with stars. Every one of them I call my brother or sister.
There go Keisha, the light skin one with a comet-tail of braids
scraping through the black. Teevon with Orion's belt picking up Pelle jeans.
We remind each other that we are stars
and if not - we the dust they gon’ sweep up anyway.
It would sound like Satchmo at the pyramids, brassy and Herculean
or like Alabama honey dripping through the smoke rings of late King Cole.
It would sing the way singers do - with a shaky index pointing heaven high
arm abreast shielding a heart too full. But that's just the way we like it.
It would cry simply because it was told it shouldn't
at histories of such strange fruit on trees.
Bloodlines marred with rape and pillage, iron and sugarcane.
Brainwash and othering till that other was just but a stutter...
and stutter it would at all the blood. blood on sidewalks. blood within soil
that begot blood-fruit. blood-children raised just to be shed.
Blood for drink
and blood for food too.
You could hear my life across the middle passage,
up the block and down the street, tellin' some boy "you play too much!"
spillin’ all my mommy, auntie and grandmother grace before dinner
and setting every single star a-twinkle before Amen.
You could hear my life sigh when I'm out looking to be turned to pieces,
whispering "Baby, ain't it time to come home?"