Monday Morning Pt. 1
Excerpted from 'A' (What the black girl found while searching for god)
The realization—we’ll call it, came in the darkest hour.
When God would no longer answer I got up and started walking.
one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead.
I disappeared into the night and the darkness—malicious and magnificent
hung itself on me and there with no knowledge of a new day
I began to weep.
be better girl, be better girl, be better girl, be better girl, be better girl.
I wept for all the things I could not be:
For my jagged edges
the softness I could not bear
I wept for the work that had not made me whole
I wept for my non-whiteness
I wept for my unworthiness
I wept for my hunger
all the times I could not eat.
(How could I consume the fruit being fed to me by those who’d made me starve?)
I wept for all the ways I could not mute myself.
I wept for my not knowing
I wept for my uncertainty
for my disobedience
for my disbelief.
When I could no longer hear God, I heard myself and was ashamed. I wiped whatever words were left in me from my mouth, hung my head and wished for a rapture. Instead came stillness. And at first, there was a horror in my holler when I discovered the God I’d been searching for – the key to my comfort and peace—this whole time had been me.
I Will Not Write of Death Today
Excerpted from amendment
Today I will write about the year I turned sixteen. Today I will inhale so deeply I can smell the charcoal—black, burning—on the pit in my grandparents backyard. Today my grandfather is still here, cigarette dangling precariously from the right corner of his mouth,
"Alright. Happy Birthday, Taji Head. I know everyone else calls you Taji Head cause they said you gotta big head, but I call you that because you’re smart. You know the right things to do and you know what needs to be done and I’m proud of you. Alright? I just wanted to say that before you blow out your candles. "
There he is peering through sunglasses he purchased during a year which no one can ever remember—87, 88? At any rate they were purchased before I was born and although he really could use another pair, the ones he has work just fine—in his post-work uniform: sneakers streaked with grass stains, cargo shorts, and a black t-shirt he bought at a tourist stop on the underground railroad in Atlanta – cause even after the skin is cracked and the lashes healed-- there’s still money to be made. All anyone can ever remember about that year, that trip, were how many people were there that looked like them and how hot it was, and how hot they imagined it must have been to be moving your broken body through the fields on somebody’s plantation—black, burning— being called by some name other than your own.